Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 83 Astral Silver 280 SL
Location: Planet Houston
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Victory Over Japan special on PBS
Watched this last night, definitly one of the most well done shows I've seen on this subject - the schedule on these shows vary so you may still be able to catch it in your area. The main thing I got out of it was that the US had no choice but to use the atom bomb on Japan. Starting in 1944, the Japanese initiated plans to build an entire armed forces structure built around suicide. The kamakazees were just the tip of the iceberg. They were in the process of changing their airplanes over to what were essentially flying human smart bombs, they were also building a fleet of suicide mini subs to meet our numerical superiority in ships, and were in the process of indoctrinating their entire teenage population to strap 10 pounds of TNT to their backs and roll under tanks. Their war department estimated that they had a ready supply of five million willing suicide troops. Absolutely mind boggling.
Of the new things I learned, I was amazed at the extent of the conventional air war that preceeded the atom bomb. I was not aware that the massive fire bombing of Tokyo, which killed an estimated 100,000 Japanese and essentially ended their production of war material, was the first use of napalm in warfare. I was also unaware that, while I have heard of the Tokyo bombing, that these same type of attacks were carried out on all the large cities of Japan and that in total an estimated 500,000 Japanese civilians died in the 10 days of sustained firebomb attacks by thousands of B-29 bombers, and the only reason it stopped was because Curtis Lemay flat ran out of bombs. In many ways these bombings strengthened the hand of the suicide faction within the Japanese high command, coming to an end only when it became apparent that the atom bomb would result in the complete destruction of Japan itself.
Amazingly, a lot of the information came from documents that even now have become recently declassified. MacArthur's war plan for atomic war on Japan is chilling for someone in our day and age to hear about, since they were then so ignorant of the after affects of atomic bombing. MacArthur planned to use seven atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland invasion point, followed by an invasion of 775,000 American troops - an invasion that would have made D-Day look like a small picnic.
Given the experience of the Okinawa invasion, the projections were for 20% fatal casualities, or over 150,000 American dead in a few weeks of fighting. It would have been even higher than that given the effects of radiation, which they had not even forseen in their battle plans. In addition, MacArthur had serious doubts the invasion would even succeed, or that the American public was ready to accept a war that might go on for years with millions of American casualities. In the end, Truman had no choice but to nuke them. A fascinating show, I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to understand why The Bomb was used.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address