Botnst - 5/5/2005 9:16 PM
kerry edwards - 5/5/2005 4:39 PM
I concur, it's a good show. But the show did deal with a couple of crucial factors that played into the final decisions. One was that Japan would probably have been willing to accept conditional surrender which would have saved many lives on both sides. Secondly, the Russians were just becoming involved in the fight. I know Howard Zinn argues that the fact that the US would have had to split the spoils of victory with the Russians, had the war continued, was an important factor in the decision to drop the nuclear bombs.
As usual, I think Zinn is semi-right, in that he gets part of a good story but fails to develop it fully nor include other valid conclusions that do not support his socialist world-view.
The A-Bomb issue is like Shrek said of himself, an onion. Each layers is a truth, but the whole onion is composed of layered truths.
Failure to vanquish a country that has been military body-slammed is an invitation to breed a generation of young patriots hot for revenge. History is full of examples. The military and civilian leadership of the Allies believed that unconditional surrender of Japan was the safest resolution. But an invasion could cost as many US servicemen's lives as the entire war had. Or the military could use the bomb and utterly defeat Japan.
Also, there was the USSR. Joe Stalin could not be enticed into war on Japan until the very last minute and then they wanted to rape Japan as they had raped East Germany, essentially haul the industrial base back to Russia and colonize some portion of the country. Worse, Joe recognized that the allies were divided about how to treat the USSR and he took advantage of that in Europe by invading and occupying formerly sovereign states. Truman wanted to send an unambiguous message to Joe: We had a superbomb and the means and will to use it. Joe got the message.
What did we get out of defeating Japan? Not much, really. Tens of thousands of dead GI's a lot of sunken vessels and some lonely atolls far removed from shipping. The worst thing we did is help our colonialist allies to regain power over their dominions. That stilll haunts us today.
But in the long run we got something far better than colonies, we helped create a viable liberal democracy in Japan. The world saw a military absolute dictatorship, maintained in power for generations, thoroughly destroyed and in it's place, in less than a generation, the common people run the country. Sure, there are still some militarists, but they sure aren't in the ascendency. Instead, they have an increasingly pluralistic society tolerant of ideas and freedoms undrempt fifty years ago.