B-29 crew that were used for live vivisection experiments. Photograph: ww2db.com
Other airmen had parts of their organs removed, with one deprived of an entire lung to gauge the effects of surgery on the respiratory system. In another experiment, doctors drilled through the skull of a live prisoner, apparently to determine if epilepsy could be treated by the removal of part of the brain.
Truman was right to use the bomb on Japan
By Richard CohenOpinion writerAugust 17
Should the United States apologize for the nuclear bombing of Japan at the end of World War II? The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 70 years ago this month, killed as many as 250,000 people, most of them civilians. For many of the victims, it was a horrible, excruciating death, and for many others, the effects of burns and radiation, although not immediately lethal, produced years of agony. Should we say we’re sorry?
My answer is no, but I do not dismiss the question out of hand. It is, after all, naggingly relevant, raising issues of proportion, race and culture. A recent article on the Web site of the decidedly liberal magazine the Nation makes three points. The bombings were animated by racial animus, they were disproportionate to the number of U.S. deaths that might have resulted from an invasion of the Japanese mainland and the bombs amounted to wretched excess: Japan was ready to surrender anyway.
Maybe so. But an imminent Japanese surrender was hardly apparent at the time. Instead, even as the war was ending, the Japanese fought nearly to the last man on Iwo Jima, a month-long battle in which almost 7,000 U.S. Marines were killed. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers on the island, only about 200 were taken prisoner. Some held out for weeks in caves. Still later in 1945, the Japanese fought tenaciously until mid-June to hold Okinawa. That battle cost 14,000 American lives.
There was reason to believe that Japan would never surrender and that an invasion of the main Japanese islands would result in staggering U.S. casualties. If that was the case, then any weapon that saved American lives would be considered justified. The author of the article in the Nation, Christian Appy, states, however, that the casualty projections were always exaggerated. Whatever the figure, a commander in chief has the responsibility to husband American lives.
What about racism? “American wartime culture had for years drawn on a long history of ‘yellow peril’ racism to paint the Japanese not just as inhuman, but as subhuman,” Appy writes. Yes, indeed. But at the same time, the Japanese were doing their level best to prove that the bigots were right. They had abused and murdered prisoners of war, they had massacred civilian populations and — no small matter this — they were flying their own airplanes into U.S. fighting ships. The famous kamikaze attacks cost the Japanese almost 4,000 pilots and killed almost 5,000 American sailors. Americans had to wonder: What kind of people would sacrifice their own in pursuit of what, by then, was a losing cause? Little wonder we thought of the Japanese then as we now think of the Islamic State.
American abhorrence of Japanese military culture was hardly standard racism. Sure, racism was present — but so was barbaric behavior on the part of the enemy. The same could be said about the Nazis. After all, the A-bomb was first intended for Germany, but Berlin surrendered before it could be used.
Harry S. Truman was characteristically terse and not particularly introspective about his decision to use the bomb. But it is clear from his diary — cited by Appy — that he loathed the Japanese, who, after all, had drawn the United States into the war with a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The president was a product of his time, and terrible times they were. Three major powers had emerged that did not hesitate to slaughter innocent people — Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Japan. As for the United States and its allies, they had already firebombed Dresden and Hamburg and incinerated many of the major cities of Japan. The writer L.P. Hartley said that “The past is a foreign country.” The past of 1945 was a world steeped in blood.
Could a “demonstration” bomb have gotten Japan to surrender? Who knows? Was Truman intent on accelerating the surrender so as to keep the Soviets out of Japan? Maybe. Was the loss of Japanese civilian life out of proportion to the projected loss of American life? Probably.
These questions are well worth pondering, but so is this one: What could Truman have said to Americans who lost a loved one in an invasion of the Japanese home islands if they knew he had a weapon that could have ended the war and not used it? What, in the dead of night when sleep did not come and he stared at the ceiling, could he have said to the American dead? I chose Japanese lives over yours? Truman did what he had to do. No apology is needed.
9:01 AM EST
The revisionists are at it again. Were you around in 1945 ? If not please keep your whining to yourself.
If there was no Pearl Harbor there would be no Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
8:42 AM EST
In terms of religious fanaticism, Japan was the ISIS/Al Quada of its day. Their devotion to their God Emperor was at least at fanatical as ISIS to Allah. Perhaps even more so because their emperor was not an abstraction. The level of threat to the US by Japan was much greater than the threat of ISIS to the US. On the battlefield, Japanese soldiers were more dedicated, more battle hardened, and more ruthless than even the most inhumane of ISIS fighters.
So ask yourself this question with the information that you have in August of 2015:
What would cause ISIS to unconditionally surrender to the US in 2015? Keep in mind that they are more on the ropes than Japan of 1945. Their territory is smaller and more fractured with less economic output. A demonstration nuclear weapon wouldn’t do it.
8:35 AM EST
Well, many say that Russia attacking the Japanese (at roughly the same time) had more effect. And it’s not like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the worst bombing events of the war. Carpet bombing cities with incendiaries had become commonplace at that point. It was a tactic meant to sap the will of the populace. It did not work very well.
And let’s be even clearer: bombing cities was a *terrorist* tactic. If you don’t believe me, read the minutes of the meetings prior to Hiroshima. They pretended the targets were “industrial” but made a lot references to “workers housing” which was code for civilian casualties.
8:22 AM EST
By August of 1945, Japan was beat…we had horribly immolated all of their major cities. Even in 1941, Japan was dependent on imports for rice and raw materials. Eisenhower opposed dropping the bomb and I just read that Admirals Nimitz and Leahy did as well. One cannot dismiss the emotion of this time. Japan was a horrible destroyer of the Asian World from 1931. Japan murdered 250,000 Chinese in reprisals for the Doolittle raids over Tokyo. One lesson we can learn from Japan is to see what happens when extremism rules over the moderate. We see that in our country today with calls for wars, bombings and expeditionary forces while we deny we need a Draft so instead only the few fight our wars and not all of us? Did the US really communicate with all elements of Japanese leadership in Summer 1945? Or just Gen. Tojo and his insane extremists? If Admiral Yammamoto were in charge – Japan would have given up- he saw American power in the 1920′s and opposed attacking the US.
8:26 AM EST
Read up on you history.
Tojo was already out of office.
Leahy and Eisenhower thought Japan would surrender, so bomb wasn’t needed or wouldn’t work.
We plastered Japan with copies of Potsdam Declaration, which might have been considered a weak document to wording obsessed Japanese.
Japan government had enough information to make a decision. They did, and it was the wrong one. Civilians suffered for it.