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Thread: The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan… Stalin Did

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan… Stalin Did

    Longish read, but worth it IMHO.

    Couldn't decide of a thread, admins do yoir job
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/...ampaign=buffer
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    Longish read, but worth it IMHO.

    Couldn't decide of a thread, admins do yoir job
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/...ampaign=buffer
    The article makes some good points when it sticks to dealing with facts - like the timing of particular events. Also a few interesting observations about Japan's possible motivation in wanting people to think the bomb was the reason for surrender. It is much less convincing when it sets up straw men to demolish. Unfortunately this constitutes the bulk of the article. One example: the idea that the postwar power balance in Asia would have swung more toward the USSR if people thought Japan had surrendered due to the Russian declaration of war is laughable.

    I'd like to see an informed response, as I got the impression the author had a ready decided & was furiously trying to construct an argument that wasn't nearly as well supported as the length of the article might suggest.


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    i hate how every year at this time, a menagerie of general idiots and apologists pop up.

    here's the one response for that:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABj%C5%8D_incident

    without the shock factor of the bomb, japan wasn't going to surrender. even with the bomb, it was a damn close call.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Phew! The article was so long. Why did the Japanese wait for the 2nd nuke to hit them if they had decided to surrender? Why not after the first nuke hit them? Was it the fear that the USAF would continue to use nukes on other cities until Japan surrendered?
    Last edited by Oracle; 07 Aug 15, at 02:51. Reason: edited

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    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oracle View Post
    Phew! The article was so long. Why did the Japanese wait for the 2nd nuke to hit them if they had decided to surrender? Did they decide to surrender after the first nuke hit Hiroshima?
    One of the many problems with the article was that it made a series of assumptions about how this particular group of individuals should have reacted and then decided, based on one account, what a particular set of actions actually meant. I get that historians have to do this, but it is a shaky foundation for any theory. Just because the reason for something isn't clear to us doesn't mean there wasn't a reason that we don't know about or can't imagine. Japan in 1945 was a place well removed from the sort of thought patterns most of us can readily relate to.

    We don't know what sort of conversations might have been going on privately among members of this group or why it might have been hard for them to bring themselves to the point where they accepted the need to surrender. As Asty's link points out, openly discussing surrender, even in the highest circles of Japan's government, could cost you your life.


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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    The author, Ward Wilson, seems to have built a career on denying that nuclear weapons discourage enemies. Don’t bother reading his Wikipedia entry; it was written by a publicist. But, here are two items from the footnotes:

    • Ward Wilson "The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima,” International Security, 2007.
    • Gareth Cook. "Why Did Japan Surrender?,” The Boston Globe, August 7, 2011.

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    He makes a good question about two things, Only six cities were left not bombed, where the rest were hit very badly. If the destruction was the case, Tokyo was factor, it was badly fired and they would have blinked before. The effects of radiation were unknown.
    Secondly, the timing. If they were so concerned why it took them 3 days to gather? Why they only gathered after the Soviets stepped in?

    I'm not versed the events and timings, but the author suggests that the decision to surrender was taken before Nagasaki, but too long after Hiroshima. Just on time for the Soviets.

    Like with every theory the author starts with a preset outcome and builds his case.

    Maybe he's a nuclear deterrence denier and apologetic, but sure he raises some points.

    Asty, the attempted coup was at least four days after he says the decision was made.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

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    It was a 1-2-3 punch. Anyone who suggests that nukes didn't have an effect don't see the picture. Japanese defences just went out the window. A single bomb on the beaches would have negated any defense moot.
    Chimo

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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    It was a 1-2-3 punch. Anyone who suggests that nukes didn't have an effect don't see the picture. Japanese defences just went out the window. A single bomb on the beaches would have negated any defense moot.
    Col, but the fallout would affect the attackers and their morale, no?

    What's the diffference in dropping one nuke or two waves of bombers for the beach?
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    Col, but the fallout would affect the attackers and their morale, no?
    Nobody thought of that before.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    What's the diffference in dropping one nuke or two waves of bombers for the beach?
    A big crater where a fortified line used to be.
    Chimo

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    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    The problem is that most people have a relatively poor knowledge of history. They read, see or hear a news report/opinion piece about how the atom bomb did/did not 'win' the war in the Pacific and immediately assume a position that suits their per-conceived prejudices without bothering to do any research or study. Even a cursory Wiki review would reveal that there were multiple causes for the for Japans eventual decision to surrender - all of them interrelated and all of them having a cumulative impact. It's relative lack of manpower and industrial capacity and inability to compete with the general level of US technological and industrial innovation going into the war, it's pre-war military commitments in China and Russia which limited it's ability to commit resources elsewhere (the two front problem), the sheer scale of the geography involved as Imperial Japan initially advanced and the logistical issues that scale imposed, the eventual defeat of it's naval and land forces in the Pacific which pushed the military campaign back to the home islands, the economic blockade imposed by the US submarine/sea mining campaign, the lack of natural resources within the boundaries of the home islands, the entry of Russia into the War towards the end of the campaign and the A bomb all worked together to set the scene for Japans defeat. Before the war even commenced there were per-existing factors which would pile pressure upon Japans government and those pressures only increased as new factors came into play with each passing year of the war.

    But no .... its far simpler to say it's all about the bad, bad, bomb. Japan would have surrendered without the bomb or (much more rarely heard) solely because of it.
    Last edited by Monash; 07 Aug 15, at 16:09.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    Col, but the fallout would affect the attackers and their morale, no?

    What's the diffference in dropping one nuke or two waves of bombers for the beach?
    Dok, I don't think fallout was well understood at the time. I believe the plans for the US invasion of the Japanese home islands called for 7-15 nukes to be dropped (however many were able to be built in time) but troops were to be sent in just 24-48 hours after the bombs went off. This would have involved significant levels of radiation exposures to US troops.

    Operation Plumbbob in the US and Totskoye in the Soviet Union were both indications that even in the late 1950s, radiation from nuclear bombs was poorly understood. Both tests were to try to determine if soldiers could function in a tactical nuclear environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    The author, Ward Wilson, seems to have built a career on denying that nuclear weapons discourage enemies. Don’t bother reading his Wikipedia entry; it was written by a publicist. But, here are two items from the footnotes:

    • Ward Wilson "The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima,” International Security, 2007.
    • Gareth Cook. "Why Did Japan Surrender?,” The Boston Globe, August 7, 2011.
    Thanks for the background DOR. Explains the way the article was written. It felt like he was reaching at times. Now I know why.

    On a more general note, it is reasonable to point out that postwar accounts on the Western side underplayed the significance of the Soviet DOW on the surrender. This wasn't necessarily malicious. it was perfectly reasonable for the US to assume that two giant bombs dropped on Japan were a lot more important than a distant Russian Army on Japanese decision making. In the way of these things people sometimes try to 'rebalance' the account by overstating the counter case. There is always a ready audience for these overstatements, especially among people who already have a particular prejudice about the US/Western Allies.


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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    One thing that we might be missing here is the time it would take to gather the decision-makers in one place. Tokyo was a mess, and just moving around the city would have been much more difficult than flying from Kansas to Washington.

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    Finally read it. It is academically dishonest and historic revisionism. The author has absolutely zero idea what was discussed in the meeting. The only official documentations that we have is of Hirehitto's surrender speech which made no mention of AUGUST STORM but of the nukes.

    To state the meeting was about discusing AUGUST STORM without any evidence to back this up is ludicrous. I don't doubt AUGUST STORM was discussed but the surrender speech was diliberately about the nukes. To ignore that is dishonest and revisionism.
    Chimo

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