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Waarom het die VSA kernbomme op 'n verswakte Japan laat val?

Waarom het die VSA kernbomme op 'n verswakte Japan laat val?

Waarom het die Verenigde State twee kernbomme op die Japannese vasteland laat val? Dit het geblyk dat Japan gereed was om oor te gee.


Die amptelike rede was om 'n lang en duur stryd te vermy wat probeer het om die Japannese tot oorgawe te dwing deur die vasteland binne te val. Die Japannese was hardnekkige vegters en hul taktiek van Kamikaze -selfmoordbomaanvallers en hul moedige verdediging van hul land in verhoudings soos die Slag van Okinawa, verleen aansienlike geloofwaardigheid aan hierdie aanspraak. Sommige soos generaal Eisenhower het nie saamgestem of so 'n maneuver werklik nodig was nie.

"... in 1945 ... het oorlogsekretaris Stimson, wat my hoofkwartier in Duitsland besoek het, my meegedeel dat ons regering voorberei om 'n atoombom op Japan te laat val. van so 'n daad ... het die sekretaris my, nadat ek die nuus van die suksesvolle bomtoets in New Mexico en die plan om dit te gebruik, vir my reaksie gevra, blykbaar 'n sterk instemming verwag.

'Tydens sy voorlesing van die relevante feite, was ek bewus van 'n gevoel van depressie en het ek my ernstige twyfel uitgespreek, eers op grond van my oortuiging dat Japan reeds verslaan is en dat die bom heeltemal onnodig was, en tweedens omdat ek gedink het dat ons land die skokkende wêreldopinie moet vermy deur die gebruik van 'n wapen waarvan ek gedink het dit nie meer verpligtend was om Amerikaanse lewens te red nie. een of ander manier om oor te gee met 'n minimum verlies aan 'gesig'. Die sekretaris was diep ontsteld oor my houding ... "

Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, bl. 380

Ongeag of die Japanse regering dit ernstig oorweeg om oor te gee, die bombardement het die besluit gedwing en was dit minder duur aan die Amerikaners (natuurlik) as 'n uitgerekte oorlog. Of 'n uitgerekte oorlog Japanse lewens sou gespaar het in teenstelling met nog 'n paar maande se wrede oorlogvoering, is 'n ope vraag.

Dit is my mening dat hierdie motivering een van verskeie mededingende redes was waarom die Amerikaners besluit het om kernbomme op Japannese burgerlike sentrums te laat ontplof. In 'n groot deel voel ek dat dit bloot die natuurlike evolusie was van die leer van totale oorlog wat toegepas is op lugbomaanvalle op burgerlike teikens, wat die eerste keer in aksie tydens die Duitse bombardement op Guernica gesien is en deur die Amerikaners voortgesit is tydens die brandbomaanvalle op Dresden en Tokio .

Daarbenewens was daar ook die vermoë om 'n atoombom in oorlogstoestande met reg te toets. Amerikaanse militêre wetenskaplikes was baie geïnteresseerd in die uitwerking van kernwapens in baie omgewings (selfs om dit onder water te laat ontplof om te sien wat sou gebeur). Die belangrikste omgewing om dit op te toets, is duidelik die van stedelike of militêre teikens. Die vorige sou in elk geval buite die oorlog ondenkbaar wees.

Deur die ontploffing van die bom kon Amerika ook 'n sterk boodskap stuur oor die magsbalans na die oorlog. Aangesien daar altyd 'n mate van onsekerheid is oor politieke betrekkinge en militêre stabiliteit na die oorlog, was die bom beslis 'n sterk boodskap waarmee Amerikaners nie te kampe het nie. Ek dink nie een van hierdie motiverings was alleen genoeg om te verduidelik waarom die Amerikaanse hoë bevel besluit het om die bomme te laat val nie; Dit is baie meer waarskynlik dat dit 'n kombinasie van verskeie hiervan is en moontlik ook verdere bekommernisse.


Die Japannese het 4 terme gehad wat hulle geëis het om 'oor te gee':

  • Die keiser sou onskuldig bly.

  • Die grense van Japan sou herstel word na dié van die somer van 1942, wat vereis dat die bondgenote elke eiland en land waaruit hulle weggegooi is, terugkeer na Japannese beheer, soos Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima en die Filippyne.

  • Japanse troepe sou hulle slegs aan Japannese offisiere oorgee. Geen bondgenoot of soldaat mag betrokke wees nie. In werklikheid sou die Japannese troepe na die kaserne terugkeer.

  • Die Japannese sou niemand vergoed vir wat hulle gedoen het nie.

Vir Westerlinge beteken dit dat die Japannese sou terugkeer na 'n kaserne en nie op 'n manier sou oorgee wat die woord beteken nie. Die geallieerdes het duidelik 'onvoorwaardelike oorgawe' verklaar

Die Japannese het gevoel dat hulle die Geallieerdes met die kamikaze -aanvalle kan walg en demoraliseer en die Geallieerdes na die onderhandelingstafel kan dryf.

Wat die 2de atoombom betref, het die Verenigde State geweet wat die Japanners dink omdat dit hulle kodes gelees het. Die hoë bevel het beweer dat aangesien die Geallieerdes 4 jaar geneem het om die eerste atoombom te maak, dit nog vier jaar sou duur vir die tweede atoombom. Hulle het geweet wat 'n atoombom was en die gevolge van sulke wapens, want hulle het self twee afsonderlike atoombomprojekte gehad (een in Tokio met behulp van chemiese skeiding van Uranium -isotope en 'n verspreidingsaanleg in die huidige Noord -Korea). Rhodes het 2 boeke geskryf (The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun) wat dit saam met ander nasionale kernprojekte bespreek het).

Na verwagting sou 'n konvensionele grondinval op die 'tuiseilande' van Japan tussen 500,000 en 1,500,000 geallieerde troepe kos. Op grond van hoe fel die gevegte in Okinawa was, en dat dit ongeveer 25 Japannese ongevalle geneem het om 1 geallieerde slagoffers te veroorsaak, sou verwag word dat 'n konvensionele grondinval in Kyushu en Honshu tientalle miljoene Japannese burgerlikes sou moes doodmaak voordat hulle sou werklik oorgee.

Cook, in Japan in oorlog, gee 'n lys van die aantal soldate in Japan wat tydens oorgawe geëet het, 4.335.500, met 3.527.000 buite Japan (meestal in China en Korea).

Uiteindelik aanvaar die bondgenote nie een van die voorwaardes nie, maar beloof dat die status van die keiser deur die Japannese volk bepaal sal word.


Die Sowjet -standpunt was dat die VSA die bom gebruik het om die USSR te bedreig.

Volgens die Great Soviet Encyclopedia, artikel "Kernwapens" ("Ядерное оружие"):

"Применение ЯО не вызывалось военной необходимостью Правящие круги США преследовали политические цели -. Продемонстрировать свою силу для устрашения свободолюбивых народов, запугать Советский Союз."

Vertaal:

"Die gebruik van kernwapens was nie geregverdig deur militêre noodsaaklikheid nie: die heersende klas van die VSA het politieke doelwitte nagestreef - om hul krag aan vryheidsliefhebbers te demonstreer, om die USSR te bedreig."

Maar my mening is dat die bom eintlik teen Duitsland ontwikkel is, en slegs die feit dat hulle so vinnig oorgegee het, het hulle gered en so 'n ongeluk na Japan gebring. Die VSA het reeds baie geld aan die nuwe wapen bestee en kon dit net nie ongebruik laat nie.

Dit was ook instrumenteel om die tegniese meerderwaardigheid bo die vyand te demonstreer (insluitend Duitsland, wat destyds as die mees tegnologies gevorderde nasie beskou is), om 'n beeld van 'gevorderde' en 'beskaafde' Duitsers wat deur barbaarse en onderontwikkelde minderwaardige nasies verslaan is, te breek ( die Duitsers beskou die Angelsakse nie as 'n sub-mens nie, maar het steeds gevoel dat die Duitsers die produktiefste en kreatiefste is). Dit was bekend dat Duitsland 'n reeks "wonderwapens" ontwikkel het sodat hul vyande iets moes kry om die beeld te balanseer.


Daar is baie om te verduidelik.

Waarom is die bom gebou?

Dit is te groot om hier te antwoord! Lees die groot boek Die maak van die atoombom. Ek haal dit aan om die ander vrae te beantwoord.

Waarom die Geallieerde beleid van onvoorwaardelike oorgawe?

Toe die geallieerde leiers in 1943 op die Casablanca -konferensie vergader, is die uitdrukking 'onvoorwaardelike oorgawe' doelbewus uit die gesamentlike verklaring weggelaat. Maar Roosevelt het dit later in 'n haastige toespraak gebruik. en Churchill het ongetwyfeld saamgegaan, eerder as om spanning tussen die Geallieerdes te toon.

In Januarie 1943 ontmoet Franklin Roosevelt Winston Churchill in Casablanca. In die loop van die vergadering bespreek die twee leiers op watter oorgawe hulle uiteindelik sou aandring; die woord "onvoorwaardelik" is bespreek, maar dit is nie ingesluit in die amptelike gesamentlike verklaring wat tydens die laaste perskonferensie gelees moet word nie. Toe, op 24 Januarie, tot die verbasing van Churchill, het Roosevelt die woord ad lib ingevoeg: 'Vrede kan oor die wêreld kom', het die president aan die saamgestelde joernaliste en nuuskamera's voorgelees, "slegs deur die totale uitskakeling van die Duitse en Japannese oorlogsmag ... Die uitskakeling van Duitse, Japannese en Italiaanse oorlogsmag beteken die onvoorwaardelike oorgawe van Duitsland, Italië en Japan. " Roosevelt het later aan Harry Hopkins gesê dat die verrassende en noodlottige invoeging 'n gevolg was van die verwarring wat sy poging bygewoon het om die Franse generaal Henri Girard te oortuig om saam met die Franse leier Charles de Gaulle te gaan sit:

Ons het soveel probleme gehad om die twee Franse generaals bymekaar te kry dat ek by myself gedink het dat dit so moeilik was as om die ontmoeting met Grant en Lee te reël-en toe was die perskonferensie skielik aan die gang, en ek en Winston het nie tyd gehad om voor te berei nie dit, en die gedagte kom by my op dat hulle Grant 'Old Unconditional Surrender' genoem het, en die volgende ding wat ek geweet het, het ek gesê.

Churchill het onmiddellik saamgestem: "Enige afwyking tussen ons, selfs deur weglating, sou by so 'n geleentheid en op so 'n tydperk skadelik of selfs gevaarlik vir ons oorlogspoging gewees het"- en onvoorwaardelike oorgawe word amptelike beleid van die geallieerde.

Waarom het die Japannese die Geallieerde oorgawe -voorwaardes geweier?

Waarom nie Japan binnedring nie?

Waarom nie Rusland vra om Japan te help inval nie?

Waarom atoombomme eerder as meer vuurbomme laat val?

Waarom nie Japan waarsku oor die bom voordat u dit laat val nie?

Waarom nie die bom op 'n onbevolkte gebied demonstreer nie?

Waarom was die bom geheim?

Waarom 'n kernwapenwedloop waag as die wêreld die bom sien?

Vir Szilard se argument dat die gebruik van die atoombom, selfs die toets van die atoombom, verstandig sou wees, omdat dit sou onthul dat die wapen bestaan, het Byrnes 'n beurt geneem om die fisikus 'n les in binnelandse politiek te leer:

Hy het gesê dat ons twee miljard dollar spandeer het aan die ontwikkeling van die bom, en dat Congress wou weet wat ons gekry het vir die geld wat bestee is. Hy het gesê: 'Hoe sou u die kongres kry om geld toe te ken vir atoomenergie-navorsing as u nie resultate toon vir die geld wat al bestee is nie?'

Waarom nie die bom geheim hou vir Rusland nie?

Byrnes se gevaarlikste misverstand vanuit Szilard se oogpunt was sy lees van die Sowjetunie:>

Byrnes het gedink dat die oorlog oor ongeveer ses maande verby sou wees ... Hy was bekommerd oor Rusland se naoorlogse gedrag. Russiese troepe het na Hongarye en Roemenië ingetrek, en Byrnes het gedink dat dit baie moeilik sou wees om Rusland te oorreed om haar troepe uit hierdie lande te onttrek, dat Rusland meer hanteerbaar sou wees as dit onder die indruk was van Amerikaanse militêre mag, en dat 'n demonstrasie van die bom Rusland kan beïndruk. Ek het Byrnes se kommer gedeel oor Rusland se gewig in die naoorlogse periode, maar ek was heeltemal verbaas oor die aanname dat die ratel van die bom Rusland meer hanteerbaar kan maak.


Die bombardement van Japan was 'n waarskuwing aan die USSR. Die bondgenote het geweet dat Japan sonder 'n geveg sou oorgee, want hulle het eintlik gevra om tien keer te mag oorgee voordat die eerste bom neergegooi is.

Die amptelike rede waarom hulle 'n oorgawe geweier is, was dat hulle aan die oorgawe verskillende vereistes gestel het, maar feitlik al hierdie eise is uiteindelik aanvaar - die grootste versoek van die Japannese PoV was natuurlik die voortsetting van die Die posisie van die keiser is toegestaan.

Daar was nooit 'n kans op 'n veg -inval op die Japannese vasteland nie, en almal het dit vooraf geweet. Die idee is eenvoudig propaganda. Die Japannese is geslaan en hulle het dit geweet. As daar die vreemde generaal was wat wou veg, was die eenvoudige feit dat hy dit self sou moes doen, aangesien die weermag op die rand van muitery was, net soos die oorblyfsels van die lugmag. Weereens, die visie van die onoorwinbare samoerai wat sou sterf voordat hy oorgegee het, is 'n gemaklike mite wat ondersteun word deur 'n handjievol freaks soos Hiroo Onoda. Sulke beelde is nie meer 'n ware beeld van die Japannese leër as wat die Alamo van die Amerikaanse leër in massa is nie.

Toe MacArthur Japan se dokumentasie oor die toestemming tot oorgawe voorlê, het Truman die idee verwerp sonder om eers die voorstel te lees en gesê dat MacArthur 'n groot generaal was, maar 'n slegte politikus - 'n sterk idee dat die bombardement 'n politieke gebeurtenis was eerder as 'n militêre een.

Die rede vir die tweede bom is gedebatteer, maar dit is waarskynlik 'n kombinasie van twee hoofredes: eerstens om die ontwerp van die tweede toestel te toets, wat aansienlik verskil van die eerste; tweedens om aan Stalin te laat weet dat die VSA 'n voorraad van hierdie dinge het, nie net een wat deur een of ander supermenslike poging gedoen is nie, wat moeilik sou wees om vinnig te herhaal.

Dit is maklik om te vergeet in watter mate die Japannese in die VSA ontmenslik was. Die idee dat 'n bomontwerp getoets word deur op burgerlikes neergewerp te word, sou nie so 'n protesoptog in die VSA laat ontstaan ​​het as dit vooraf gedryf is nie en inderdaad in die algemene opinie vir dekades daarna as heeltemal geregverdig beskou word. .

Die uiteindelike wortels van die bombardement is 'n fassinerende verhaal van die interaksie van militarisme en godsdiens aan beide kante, terug na die dae (minder as 'n eeu tevore) van die ekspedisie van admiraal Perry om "oop te maak" (dws dreig om te onderwerp aan onderdanigheid) Japan en die reaksie van die Shogunate op die uitdaging. In die lig hiervan is daar 'n aaklige ironie in die feit dat Nagasaki gebombardeer is (weens weer), aangesien dit een van die eerste stede was wat vir die buitewêreld oopgemaak is en spesifiek geopen is as 'n poging om te voorkom dat Japan aangeval en verower word. deur die VSA.


Die oorlog in Europa het die magtige rooi leër, wat meestal verantwoordelik was vir die verslaan van Nazi's, na Berlyn in Duitsland gebring. Ons en die Sowjetunie het 'n paar meningsverskille gehad oor die reëlings oor Europa. Ons wou die Russe laat weet wie die baas is (in die woorde van Truman) en daarom het die Amerikaanse weermag byna 'n halfmiljoen Japannese gebraai en miljoene in die komende geslagte seergemaak om dit te bereik. President Truman het 'n belangrike rol daarin gespeel deur nie die valke in die weermag te stuit nie. FDR (Rosevelt sou nooit toelaat dat die visie van die naoorlogse magsgreep tot in Japan strek nie.) Japannese stede is reeds verbrand en die kommerwekkendste vir die Japannese was 'n Russiese inval en nie die kernaanval nie. Hulle kon ook nie die ophang van hul keiser belemmer nie. Die VSA vertraag die versekering om die keiser te beskerm totdat dit die tweede bom ontplof het, op dieselfde dag dat die USSR Mantsjoerye aanval, toe beheer deur die Japanse magte. Japannese is destyds as submens beskou, en die politieke koste vir Amerikaanse politici was dus onbeduidend. Om dit goed te verstaan, kyk na Oliver Stone se dokumentêr "Untold history of the USA" episode 2 en 3.


... op 'n verswakte Japan

Vergelyk met Duits, het Japan op 1 Augustus 1945 1/6 deel van die wêreld beheer.

Japannese is kamikaze.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagasaki

Gedurende die Meiji -periode het Nagasaki 'n sentrum van swaar nywerheid geword. Die hoofbedryf was die skeepsbou, met die werwe onder beheer van Mitsubishi Heavy Industries wat een van die hoofkontrakteurs vir die keiserlike Japanse vloot geword het, en met die hawe van Nagasaki as 'n ankerplek onder die beheer van die nabygeleë Sasebo Naval District. Hierdie verbindings met die weermag het van Nagasaki 'n belangrike doelwit gemaak vir bombardemente deur die Geallieerdes in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshima

Tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog was die 2de Algemene Weermag en die Chugoku Streekleër se hoofkwartier in Hiroshima, en die Marine Marine Headquarters was geleë in die hawe van Ujina. Die stad het ook groot depots van militêre voorrade en was 'n belangrike sentrum vir skeepvaart.

Hiroshima was 'n militêre hawe en hoofkwartier.

Nagasaki was 'n stadsmilitêre fabriek, en Mitsubishi het motors van vliegtuie vervaardig.

Dit was soos om die Pentagon en Lockheed Martin se belangrikste fabrieke te ontwrig.


Waarom is die besluit geneem om die atoombom op Japan te gebruik?

Die besluit om die atoombom te gebruik om twee Japannese stede aan te val en die Tweede Wêreldoorlog effektief te beëindig, bly een van die mees omstrede besluite in die geskiedenis. Die konvensionele siening, wat terugkeer na die aanvanklike persdekking in 1945, was dat die gebruik van atoomwapens geregverdig was omdat dit 'n lang en baie duur oorlog beëindig het. Maar oor die tussentyd wat ingegaan het, is ander interpretasies van die besluit om twee Japannese stede te tref, aangebied.

Alternatiewe verduidelikings sluit in die idee dat die Verenigde State grootliks daarin belang gestel het om atoomwapens te gebruik as 'n manier om die oorlog vinnig te beëindig en om te keer dat die Sowjetunie by die gevegte in die Stille Oseaan betrokke raak.

Vinnige feite: besluit om die atoombom te laat val

  • President Truman het die besluit geneem om die atoombom te gebruik sonder openbare of kongresdebat. Hy stig later 'n groep wat bekend staan ​​as die tussentydse komitee om te besluit hoe - maar nie of - die bom gebruik moet word.
  • 'N Klein groepie bekende wetenskaplikes, waaronder sommige wat betrokke was by die skepping van die bom, pleit teen die gebruik daarvan, maar hulle argumente word in wese geïgnoreer.
  • Die Sowjetunie sou binne enkele maande die oorlog in Japan betree, maar die Amerikaners was versigtig vir Sowjet -voornemens. Deur die oorlog vinnig te beëindig, sou Russiese deelname aan die geveg en uitbreiding na dele van Asië verhinder word.
  • In die Potsdam -verklaring wat op 26 Julie 1945 uitgereik is, het die Verenigde State 'n beroep gedoen op die onvoorwaardelike oorgawe van Japan. Japan se verwerping van die eis het gelei tot 'n finale bevel om met atoombomme voort te gaan.

Waarom die Verenigde State atoombomme in 1945 laat val het?

Inwoner Obama se besoek aan Hiroshima, byna 71 jaar nadat dit deur die eerste atoombom vernietig is, laat onvermydelik weer die vrae ontstaan ​​waarom die Verenigde State die bom laat val het, of dit nodig was om Japan te oorreed om oor te gee en of dit lewens gered het deur dit maak dit onnodig om die Japannese tuiseilande binne te val.

Begin in die sestigerjare, toe die Viëtnam -oorlog miljoene Amerikaners ontnugter het met die Koue Oorlog en die Amerikaanse rol in die wêreld, het die idee dat die bombardement van Hiroshima en mdash en die daaropvolgende bombardement van Nagasaki en mdash nie nodig was nie, veld gewen. Onder leiding van die ekonoom Gar Alperovitz het 'n nuwe skool geskiedkundiges ook begin argumenteer dat die bom meer neergegooi is om die Sowjetunie te intimideer as om die Japannese te verslaan. Teen 1995 het Amerikaners so skerp verdeeld geraak oor die noodsaaklikheid en moraliteit om die bomme te laat val, dat 'n 50 -jarige bestaan ​​uitstalling by die Smithsonian herhaaldelik verander moes word en uiteindelik drasties moes terugskaal. Hartstogte het afgekoel namate die geslag wat die oorlog gevoer het, die toneel verlaat het en akademici na ander onderwerpe gewend het, maar die besoek van die president en rsquos sal dit beslis weer laat opvlam.

Omdat passie, nie rede nie, die debat grootliks gedryf het, is daar te min aandag geskenk aan 'n aantal ernstige wetenskaplike werke en dokumentêre vrystellings wat baie van die nuwe teorieë oor die gebruik van die bom in diskrediet gebring het. Reeds in 1973 het Robert James Maddux getoon dat Alperovitz & rsquos se argument oor die bom en die USSR feitlik heeltemal ongegrond was, maar die werk van Maddox en rsquos het min invloed op die openbare persepsie van die gebeurtenis.

Tog, diegene wat aanhou redeneer het dat Moskou, nie Tokio nie, die eintlike doelwit van die A-bomme was, moes op afleidings staatmaak oor wat president Truman en sy topadviseurs sou gedink het, aangesien daar nooit dokumentêre bewys was nie dat hulle regtig so gevoel het. Intussen het ander studies kritiese bydraes gelewer oor ander aspekte van die twis. Danksy hulle kan ons duidelik sien dat die Japannese glad nie gereed was om op Amerikaanse voorwaardes oor te gee voordat die twee bomme neergegooi is nie, dat hulle die mees vasberade weerstand teen die beplande Amerikaanse inval beplan het, waarop hulle hulle kon voorberei dit omvattend, en dat die gevolge van 'n langer oorlog vir beide die Japannese en Amerikaanse magte baie ernstiger kon gewees het as die twee bomme.

Die Amerikaanse doelwit in die oorlog is vroeg in 1943 deur president Roosevelt in die openbaar neergelê: die onvoorwaardelike oorgawe van al sy vyande, wat die besetting van hul grondgebied moontlik maak en nuwe politieke instellings soos die Geallieerdes ingestel word gepas gesien het. In die vroeë somer van 1945 is hierdie voorwaardes inderdaad aan Duitsland opgelê. Maar as 'n briljante studie van 1999 deur Richard B. Frank, Ondergang, het getoon, die Japannese regering was baie bewus daarvan dat hy nie die oorlog kon wen nie en was glad nie gereed om sulke voorwaardes te aanvaar nie. Hulle wou veral 'n Amerikaanse besetting van Japan of enige verandering in hul politieke instellings vermy.

Omdat hulle weet dat Amerikaanse troepe die eiland Kyushu sal binnedring voordat hulle na Honshu en Tokio self gaan, beplan die Japannese 'n groot, duur geveg teen Kyushu wat genoeg slagoffers sal meebring om Washington te laat kompromitteer. Belangriker nog, soos 'n uitstekende studie van Amerikaanse intelligensie in 1998 getoon het, het die Japannese in werklikheid daarin geslaag om Kyushu baie sterk te versterk, en militêre owerhede in Washington het dit geweet. Einde Julie 1945 het die skatting van militêre intelligensie van die Japanse magte op Kyushu aansienlik gestyg, en die stafhoof van die weermag, generaal George C. Marshall, was voldoende bekommerd dat hy, teen die tyd dat die bom op Hiroshima neergesit is, aan generaal MacArthur voorstel , wat die inval sou beveel, dat hy die inval van Kyushu heroorweeg en moontlik heeltemal sou laat vaar.

Soos dit blyk, was die kombinasie van die bomme op Hiroshima en Nagasaki en die toetrede van die USSR tot die oorlog teen Japan en mdashall binne 'n tydperk van slegs drie dae, en oortuig die keiser en die Japanse regering dat oorgawe die enigste opsie was. Meer en meer bewyse het egter getoon dat Japan nie op Amerikaanse voorwaardes sou oorgegee het voordat 'n inval plaasgevind het sonder die atoombomme nie.

Die Verenigde State het toe die bomme laat val om die oorlog wat Japan in 1931 in Asië ontketen het, te beëindig en na Pearl Harbor en mdashand na die Verenigde State uitgebrei en sodoende waarskynlik 'n inval vermy wat honderde duisende slagoffers sou beteken het. Frank het ook aangevoer in Ondergang dat duisende Japannese burgerlikes intussen ook sou honger gely het.

Dit beteken nie dat ons ons nie hoef af te vra oor die morele implikasies van die vernietiging van twee hele stede met kernwapens nie. Niks vergelykbaar het sedertdien gebeur nie, miskien as gevolg van die afskrikwekkende effek van alle kante om te sien wat atoomwapens kan doen, en ons moet almal hoop dat dit nooit weer sal gebeur nie.

Maar ons twis is nie eintlik met die gebruik van die atoombomme spesifiek nie, maar met die houding teenoor die menslike lewe en onder andere die burgerlike lewe en die wat tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog grootgeword het. Jare voor Hiroshima en Nagasaki het Britse en Amerikaanse strateë die brand van hele stede aangeneem as 'n wettige manier om Duitsland en Japan te probeer verslaan. Die brandbomaanvalle van Hamburg, Dresden, Tokio en ander Japannese stede het tot gevolg gehad dat mense ongeveer dieselfde as of groter was as die atoombomaanvalle van die twee stede. Geen geskiedkundige, sover ek weet, het nog nooit probeer naspeur hoe die idee dat 'n wettige taktiek vir hele stede en hul bevolkings 'n ortodoksie geword het in die Britse en Amerikaanse lugmag nie, maar dit bly 'n baie hartseer kommentaar op die etos van die twintigste eeu . Hulle het in elk geval die drumpel oorskry, goed voor Hiroshima en Nagasaki. Die val van die bomme maak ons ​​vandag verskriklik, maar destyds is dit beskou as 'n noodsaaklike stap om 'n vreeslike oorlog so vinnig en met die minste lewensverlies moontlik te beëindig. Noukeurige historiese navorsing het hierdie siening bevestig.

Historici verduidelik hoe die verlede die hede inlig

David Kaiser, 'n historikus, het onderwys gegee aan Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Williams College en die Naval War College. Hy is die skrywer van sewe boeke, waaronder, mees onlangs, Oorwinning sonder einde: hoe FDR die nasie in 'n oorlog gelei het. Hy woon in Watertown, Mass.


Die atoombomaanvalle: Waarom Hiroshima en Nagasaki?

Op 6 Augustus 1945 het die Verenigde State 'n kernwapen op Hiroshima, Japan, laat val - die eerste keer dat so 'n katastrofiese wapen ooit in konflik gebruik is. Drie dae later het die VSA nog een op Nagasaki vrygelaat, die stad verwoes en die kerntydperk ingelui. In die komende weke sal Global Zero ondersoek wat gelei het tot die ontwikkeling van die bom, die gevolge van die gebruik daarvan en waar ons vandaan gekom het sedert die noodlottige dae in Augustus. Dit is die vyfde pos in ons reeks "'My God wat het ons gedoen:' Die nalatenskap van Hiroshima en Nagasaki."

In die middel van Julie 1945 is president Harry Truman meegedeel dat die eerste toets van die atoombom suksesvol was. Die bom was gereed vir militêre gebruik. Interne beraadslagings en weersomstandighede het uiteindelik daartoe gelei dat die VSA 'n kernwapen op Hiroshima en later Nagasaki gebruik het.

Voor die Trinity -toets het die doelwitkomitee van die Manhattan -projek bespreek watter Japannese stede die doeltreffendste teikens vir die atoombom sou wees. In Mei 1945 het die komitee hul aanbevelings uitgereik. Op grond van drie kwalifikasies - "'n groot stedelike gebied met meer as drie myl in deursnee en#8230 effektief beskadig kan word deur die ontploffing en … waarskynlik nie deur [Augustus 1946] aangeval sal word nie" - het die komitee hul voorste vier moontlike teikens vir die bombardemente geïdentifiseer : Kokura, Yokohama, Hiroshima en Kyoto. Nilgata, 'n toenemend belangrike hawestad, is ook as 'n opsie aangebied.

Kokura was 'n stad van groot militêre belang omdat dit die grootste fabriek in Wes -Japan gehad het vir die vervaardiging van vliegtuie, missiele en ander wapens. Yokohama was 'n stedelike gebied wat tot dusver die aanval vrygespring het en belangrike industriële aktiwiteite aangebied het, waaronder vervaardiging van vliegtuie, dokke en olieraffinaderye.

Die Doelkomitee het die top vier Japannese doelstede geïdentifiseer, waaronder Hiroshima wat hier voor die bombardement gewys is.

Hirosjima was ook uit militêre oogpunt baie belangrik, aangesien dit die tuiste was van die 2de leërhoofkwartier, wat verantwoordelik was vir die verdediging van die suide van Japan. Dit was 'n belangrike sentrum vir berging, kommunikasie en samekoms van soldate. Die stad se landskap het sy aantrekkingskrag toegevoeg as 'n plek om die vernietigende krag van die bomme ten toon te stel - die heuwels in die omgewing kan skade veroorsaak deur die atoombom en die riviere wat daardeur loop, het Hiroshima van die lys van teikens vir brandbomme gehou.

Kyoto was nog 'n ideale doelwit: dit het 'n bevolking van 1.000.000 mense, 'n belangrike industriële sentrum, en dit was die intellektuele sentrum van Japan en die voormalige hoofstad. Uiteindelik het die Amerikaanse minister van Oorlog, Henry Stimson, Truman oorreed om Kyoto buite ag te neem, aangesien dit die kulturele sentrum van Japan en 'n gekoesterde stad was. Nagasaki, 'n ander belangrike hawe, is gekies as die plaasvervanger.

Die doelwit is op 25 Julie 1945 afgehandel: Hiroshima, Kokura, Nilgata, Nagasaki. Die aanvalbevel het bepaal dat die Amerikaanse lugmag die eerste bom sou lewer "na ongeveer 3 Augustus 1945 op een van die teikens" soos die weer dit toelaat. Die weerberig van Hiroshima vir 6 Augustus toon 'n helder dag en planne het vorentoe gegaan. Kokura, die beoogde teiken vir die tweede bombardement, was gespaar net omdat die stad op 9 Augustus skielik deur 'n wolk bedek was. Nagasaki was in plaas daarvan verwoes.

Ons volgende pos vier die herdenking van die bombardement op Hiroshima met 'n verslag van die bombardement en die onmiddellike verwoestende gevolge daarvan.


Die geskiedenis van Amerikaanse besluitneming oor kernwapens in Japan

Vroeër hierdie maand het die minister van verdediging, Mark Esper, gesê dat hy ten gunste daarvan is om konvensionele missiele in die middelafstand te plaas in Asië na die afsterwe van die INF-verdrag. Terwyl sekretaris Esper nie aangedui het waar die missiele ontplooi kan word nie, glo baie veiligheidskenners dat Japan die waarskynlikste kandidaat is. Die streng veiligheidsverbond tussen die VSA en Japan wat uit die Amerikaanse besetting gebou is, het Japan histories as 'n ideale plek vir Amerikaanse wapensisteme opgerig. Alhoewel sekretaris Esper en die meeste voorstelle vir middelafstand-missiele in Asië na konvensionele wapens verwys, sal baie Japannese vanweë hul strategiese belangrikheid hierdie voorstelle waarskynlik as 'n deel van 'n lang en polities onheilspellende geskiedenis van Amerikaanse wapenontplooiings op Japannese gebied lees, insluitend kern wapens.

Die strategiese ligging van Japan in die Stille Oseaan, tesame met die swaar Amerikaanse invloed op die ontluikende demokrasie, het dit 'n aantreklike opsie gemaak om Amerikaanse kernwapens tydens die Koue Oorlog aan te bied. Amerikaanse beheer oor die suidelike eilandketting van Japan het 'n strategiese geleentheid gebied om taktiese kernwapens na 'n toenemend onbestendige Stille Oseaan -gebied te ontplooi, waar oorlogsbeplanners hul toenemende militêre nut verwag terwyl hulle kragposisies beplan om te reageer op die nasleep van die Koreaanse oorlog en die Chinese burgeroorlog .

Kaart met die ligging van Okinawa, Iwo Jima en Chichi Jima. (Beeld met vergunning van Wikimedia Commons.)

In 1959 het premier Nobusuke Kishi eers verklaar dat Japan nie kernwapens op sy grondgebied sou ontwikkel of toelaat nie. Hierdie verklaring vorm die hoeksteen van Eerste Minister Eisaku Sato se vestiging van 1967 in Japan van die "drie nie-kernbeginsels", wat beloof om nie kernwapens in Japan te verwerk, vervaardig of toe te laat nie. Die dieet het hierdie beginsels formeel aanvaar deur middel van 'n resolusie in 1971, hoewel dit nie wetlik bindend is nie. Eerste minister Sato, wat bekommerd was dat die drie nie-kernbeginsels te bindend was vir die verdedigingshouding van Japan, het die beleid in Februarie 1968 aangevul met sy 'kernbeleid met vier pilare'. Die vier pilare was om vreedsame gebruik van kernkrag te bevorder, om wêreldwye kernontwapening te bewerkstellig, om te vertrou op die uitgebreide Amerikaanse kernafskrikmiddel en om die drie nie-kernbeginsels te ondersteun.

Gedurende die 1950's en 1960's het Amerikaanse amptenare dikwels gekla dat Japan se "kernallergie" beperkings op die houding van die Amerikaanse kernkrag plaas. Ondanks die openbare standpunt van die Japannese regering teen die kern, het die nuanses van die bilaterale veiligheidsverhouding en verdragstaal die VSA aangemoedig om kernwapens in die middel van die vyftigerjare na Japan te ontplooi. Die besetting van die vasteland van Japan het in 1951 geëindig, maar deur die Verdrag van San Francisco kon die VSA sy beheer oor die suidelike eilandkettings van Japan behou, wat die eilande Okinawa, Iwo Jima en Chichi Jima insluit. War planners worried that compromised communication systems in a time of crisis would make emergency deployments and transfers of nuclear weapons difficult or impossible, so they sought to establish a forward deployed posture in the Pacific.

The bulk of the nuclear weapons were stored on Okinawa at the Henoko Ordnance Ammunition Depot adjacent from Camp Schwab and the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area at Kadena Air Base, where SAC’s strategic bombers were based. Between 1954 and 1972, the bases on Okinawa hosted 19 different types of nuclear weapons. At the height of the Vietnam War, around 1,200 nuclear weapons were stored on Okinawa alone. A document declassified in 2017 shows that in 1969 Japan officially consented to the U.S. bringing nuclear weapons to Okinawa.

Every American president from 1952 onward remained publicly committed to the reversion of Okinawa, but was privately reluctant to initiate the hand-over. During the 1950s to mid-1960s, the Japanese were largely willing to accept reversion as a distant goal, in part because the U.S.-backed Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that held power in the post-Occupation era was hesitant to challenge the U.S. on the issue. The Japanese government also recognized the security value of U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa, given Japan’s restraining pacifist constitution. However, in the late-1960s, pressure began to build from the Okinawans and the mainland Japanese establishment to return the island to Japan.

Prime Minister Sato first raised the issue with the U.S. in 1967 during talks with President Johnson. President Johnson responded that because of the 1968 election and the war in Vietnam, the U.S. would be unable to address reversion of Okinawa until 1969 at the earliest. In March of 1969, Henry Kissinger sent President Nixon a memo outlining the Japanese demands for reversion as well as the relevant military and political considerations. While the memo acknowledged that public demand within Japan for reversion was growing politically untenable for Prime Minister Sato, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff were primarily concerned about the effect of reversion on nuclear storage and military activities such as B-52 operations against Vietnam. On nuclear storage, Kissinger wrote, “The loss of Okinawan nuclear storage would degrade nuclear capabilities in the Pacific and reduce our flexibility.”

Top secret agreement allowing the U.S. to maintain emergency reactivation of nuclear weapons storage on U.S. bases in Okinawa. (Image courtesy of Union of Concerned Scientists.)

While the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted the Nixon Administration to push for continued nuclear storage post-reversion, Kissinger wrote that it was unlikely that the Japanese Diet would support it in face of growing public dissatisfaction, even if Prime Minister Sato agreed. Kissinger added that “…in the slim possibility that Japanese agreement to nuclear storage is obtained, we must recognize that the Japanese proponents of this position view this as the opening wedge for an independent Japanese nuclear force.” Kissinger recommended that the U.S. return Okinawa to Japanese control and give up nuclear storage on the island in order to maintain basing rights, emergency nuclear storage rights, and full nuclear transit rights.

Prime Minister Sato and President Nixon agreed to the reversion of Okinawa in 1969. The agreement contained a secret clause permitting the U.S. to reintroduce nuclear weapons to its Okinawa bases in the case of an emergency. Okinawa was officially returned to Japan in 1972 and shortly after all U.S. nuclear warheads were withdrawn.

In 2016, the U.S. government officially declassified the fact that nuclear weapons were deployed to Okinawa before 1972. It also declassified “the fact that prior to the reversion of Okinawa to Japan that the U.S. Government conducted internal discussion, and discussions with Japanese government officials regarding the possible re-introduction of nuclear weapons onto Okinawa in the event of an emergency or crisis situation.”

While military planners believed the forward deployed nuclear weapons on Okinawa were useful in launching potential attacks against China, Russia, or Vietnam, they feared that in the event of nuclear war with either China or Russia, the U.S. bases on Okinawa would be attacked and destroyed early. In order to maintain a viable second salvo in the Pacific, nuclear weapons were also stored on the U.S.-controlled islands of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. Iwo Jima became a fallback support station for the Far East Air Force, maintaining an unknown arsenal of atomic bombs that bombers could pick up for a second strike after dropping their first load on China or Russia. Chichi Jima was outfitted with W5 nuclear warheads for Regulus missiles to serve as a reload point for Regulus submarines if U.S. bases in Japan, Pearl Harbor, Guam, and Adak were destroyed in nuclear war.

The U.S. maintained nuclear weapons as well as other military support structures on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima into the mid-1960s. The Japanese had been pushing for return of Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, and Okinawa since the mid-1950s and by 1964, U.S. diplomats in Tokyo also began pressuring Washington to return the islands to Japan, believing it vital to maintaining the cooperative and positive relationship the two countries shared. President Johnson, realizing that returning Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima would be a necessary concession in order to delay the return of the more strategically valuable island of Okinawa, reverted control of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima to Japan in 1968. All nuclear weapons were removed from the islands by the time of their reversion, but the agreement President Johnson and Foreign Minister Takeo Miki signed would allow the U.S. to redeploy nuclear weapons to the islands in an emergency, upon consultation with the Japanese government. The U.S. government has not confirmed the deployment of nuclear weapons to Iwo Jima or Chichi Jima.

In addition to the nuclear weapons stored on Japan’s southern island chains, the U.S. allegedly stored nuclear weapons without the fissile cores on the Japanese mainland at Misawa and Itazuki airbases until 1965, avoiding by mere semantic technicality violation of Japan’s sovereignty and the integrity of Japan’s three non-nuclear principles. Nuclear armed naval ships were also allegedly allowed to transit Japanese waters and dock at mainland ports with tacit Japanese approval into the 1980s under an oral agreement the two countries made when Japan and the U.S. renegotiated the U.S.-Japan mutual security treaty in 1960.

While the U.S. government has never confirmed that U.S. naval ships carrying nuclear weapons visited Japanese ports, there are two instances that support this claim. In 1974, retired Rear Admiral Gene La Rocque who formally commanded a flagship of the Seventh Fleet, testified before Congress that “any ship capable of carrying nuclear weapons carries nuclear weapons. They do not unload them when they go into foreign ports such as Japan or other countries.”

In 1981, Edwin O. Reischauer, former U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo during the 1960s, acknowledged in a newspaper interview that Japan was permitting U.S. naval ships carrying nuclear weapons to transit Japanese ports under the aforementioned oral agreement. According to Reischauer, American warships could bring nuclear weapons into Japanese waters and ports during routine visits but were not allowed to be unloaded or stored in Japan. The agreement allowed the same freedom to U.S. military planes carrying nuclear weapons.

Both disclosures incited protests from the Japanese public, which has adamantly maintained its anti-nuclear posture since U.S. atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. However, the historical record shows that the Japanese executive branch, dominated for decades by conservative LDP politicians, has at times acquiesced to asserted U.S. military necessities when it comes to nuclear weapons.

The coalitional Diet however has been historically reluctant to publicly support such domestically unpopular measures as allowing U.S. nuclear weapons into Japanese territory or developing an independent nuclear force. This reluctance extends to the possible deployment of conventional intermediate-range missiles being discussed among U.S. defense specialists today.

Policymakers and analysts should be aware of the complex history of US weapons deployments to Japan when discussing future deployments. It should be expected that proposed deployments will face similarly strong political reactions from activists, civil society groups, and communities who remember this history first hand.


How Physics Drove the Design of the Atomic Bombs Dropped on Japan

For many scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, the race to build an atomic bomb was a grim battle between life and death. There was no denying the technology's destructive force or its inevitable civilian toll. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place 70 years ago this week, scientific director J. Robert Oppenheimer famously recalled his feelings upon hearing the news, quoting from a Hindu text: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Verwante inhoud

But in the grip of World War II, with German scientists furtively working on the same technology, Oppenheimer and other physicists in the U.S. were keenly focused on the task of creating the world's first nuclear weapon. And within the secret confines of Los Alamos National Laboratory, an internal battle was raging between two groups with opposing ideas for how to deliver the deadly payload.

Ultimately, two types of bomb using different radioactive materials fell on Japan just days apart, codenamed Little Boy and Fat Man. But if scientists had succeeded in their first attempts, both bombs could have been named Thin Man.

The nucleus of an atom is a more variable place than you might imagine. At its heart, an atom contains a mix of particles called protons and neutrons, which combine to give the atom its mass and its unique elemental personality. While all atoms of a given chemical element have the same number of protons, the neutron count can vary, yielding isotopes of different masses. But like an overcrowded raft, some isotopes teeter on the edge of stability and are prone to spontaneously tossing out excess energy and particles in the form of radiation. Over time, radioactive isotopes naturally decay into more stable configurations and even into new elements in a fairly predictable chain of events.

Harnessing the atom to create an explosion didn't seem realistic until 1939, when scientists in Berlin managed to deliberately split a uranium atom into lighter elements. Induced in the right way, this process of nuclear fission can release enormous amounts of energy—according to initial reports by Die New York Times, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT, although that estimate has since been downgraded to 15,000 tons.

In a 1939 letter to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein warned of the fission experiment and Nazi efforts to build a weapon. Soon after, scientists showed just how much uranium would be needed to achieve critical mass and detonate a fission bomb, and they proved that they could also use plutonium for the task. By 1941, the Manhattan Project had joined the race to develop a working atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer at first placed his faith in a design codenamed Thin Man, a long, skinny gun-type bomb. It would fire a plug of radioactive material at a target made of the same stuff, so that the combined forces of compression and increased mass triggered the chain reaction that would lead to a fission explosion. As a hedge, another team was investigating an implosion bomb, which would compress a subcritical mass of material in a core surrounded by explosives. When the charges went off, the ball of material would get squeezed from the size of a grapefruit to that of a tennis ball, reaching critical mass and detonating the bomb.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber rolls backward over the bomb pit for loading at Tinian in the Mariana Islands. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) The Little Boy bomb rests on a hydraulic lift. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) The Fat Man bomb gets checked out on its transport dolly. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) The Little Boy bomb is readied for loading into the B-29 bomber Enola Gay. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) The implosion core of the Fat Man bomb is readied for placement inside the casing. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) A hydraulic lift raises the Little Boy bomb into the plane's bay. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) Fat Man being raised on a lift over the bomb pit before loading into the B-29 Bockscar. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) The Little Boy bomb inside the bay of the Enola Gay. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation) Enola Gay weaponeer Deak Parsons was one of several people to sign their names on the tail assembly of the Fat Man bomb. (Courtesy of the Atomic Heritage Foundation)

The implosion design was elegant but the physics were less certain, which is why the gun model took priority. After about four months, though, project scientists realized that the Thin Man was not going to work with their desired fuel source, the radioactive isotope plutonium-139. The Hanford Site in southeastern Washington State was built in 1943 with the express purpose of pumping out weapons-grade plutonium, and it turned out that material from its reactors had a fatal flaw.

"The plutonium Thin Man design had to be abandoned because of high risk of pre-detonation," says Barton Hacker, a military technology historian at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. That's not as scary as it sounds—it simply means that the plug and the target would lose their destructive power before the bomb could actually go off. "Available plutonium emitted too many neutrons, setting off a nuclear reaction before critical mass could be attained, resulting in what the physicists called a fizzle."

The neutron emission from uranium was low enough to let a gun-type reach critical mass, but the supply was severely limited. "Plutonium could be produced more quickly than weapons-grade uranium," says Hacker. "The gun design was sure to work, but there wasn't enough uranium for more than one in 1945."

The Little Boy bomb that fell on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, was the offspring of the Thin Man, a shorter gun-type bomb that carried a uranium payload. Meanwhile, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9 was an implosion device, the plutonium-powered Fat Man. Its design was about ten times more efficient and generated a greater explosive force, equal to about 21,000 tons of TNT, according to modern estimates. Although the Little Boy bomb was less efficient and less powerful, it destroyed more of the area around Hiroshima because the hilly terrain around Nagasaki restricted Fat Man's blast radius. Still, in the wake of the bombings, implosion became the primary design for nuclear weaponry into the Cold War era.

"To the best of my knowledge, the only gun-type design ever detonated after Hiroshima was one of a nuclear artillery shell tested in Nevada in 1953," says Hacker. "All the rest were implosion designs. Gun-type designs were reliable but inefficient, using more nuclear material for the same results as implosion devices. They remained in the stockpile as artillery shells, but no others were detonated."


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Did USA really have to drop the atomic bomb on Japan during WW2?

One of the major reasons why the atomic bomb was dropped was to save American lives, at least so it is told by many sources. Because the Japanese population was far from surrendering and would fight to their death, so an invasion would be costly in human lives. Dropping the atomic bomb would prevent this loss of American lives and subdue the Japanese into surrendering.

But I have heard that some, "The Untold History of the United States" comes to mind, claim that Japan was close to surrendering and that the atomic bomb was dropped foremost as a power display?

Which of these statements are true, or are they both true in a sense?

Edit: Thank you all for your comments! It has shed some light on the area and a lot of other interesting reasons as well, which could partly be behind the decision! Kudos to you all!

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The difference between those two statements is the difference in the perception of the state of the war at the time between the two countries.

From the perspective of the US, after a long island-hopping campaign they were only just now ready to attempt to make inroads on the Japanese mainland itself. The Japanese had proven to have a tendency to fight to the death, relying on underground tunnels, night raids, and guerilla tactics that meant that they inflicted heavy casualties when defending, even when greatly outnumbered. Theyɽ had a sneak peak at what an invasion of Japan might look like when they took Okinawa, and they didn't like what they saw. Not only did Japanese soliders fight to the death while inflicting heavy casualties, there were even cases where civilians commited suicide, either willingly or forced by the Japanese army, rather than fall under enemy occupation.

Just think about the D-Day landings. How much planning, manpower, and resources were poured into them. How hard a fight they were. How they relied on a huge counterintelligence operation, secret weapons systems designed specifically for those landings, and they still had tons of mistakes and dangers. That was all for making a landing over a body of water just 20 miles wide.

By comparison, an invasion of Japan would have to cross the entire pacific ocean. The number of beaches suitable for an amphibious assault were limited, and each was heavily guarded by the Japanese. Once a beachhead had been established, the whole country is covered with thickly forested mountains- terrain that heavily favors the defender. And because Japan's an archipelago, they would have to repeat these landings several times.

The US anticipated it would be a bloodbath. An often quoted statistic is the fact that in preparation the US put together a batch of purple heart medals in preparation for the amount of wounded soldiers they predicted an invasion of Japan would generate. Since the invasion didn't happen, they were left with a stockpile. They still haven't gone through that stockpile today. Just think about that- all the wounded of the Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and more doesn't add up to the number of wounded they thought they would incur from invading Japan.

From the point of view of the US, in August 1945 the war was far from over. If anything, they were finally getting to the hard part. (continued next comment)

For comparison, let's look at it from the perspective of Japan, because they had a very different view of how the war was going. The navy they had been so proud of had been smashed to pieces. They barely had any aircraft carriers left, while the US was literally pumping out a new carrier every week. Their battleships had mostly been sunk. What ships they did still have couldn't leave the docks because there was no fuel left. They had all but run out of skilled pilots. Teaching new recruits to fly into US ships was about all they could manage. The whole country was starving due to allied blockades and the lack of fuel. Most of their largest cities had been burned to the ground. People make a big deal about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it's often forgotten that the Tokyo firebombings a few months previous had just as high a death count. They couldn't even defend against the bombings anymore, because the US's new planes flew higher than their fighters could reach.

This was not the way Japan had intended the war to go. Their strategy going into the war was based on what had worked for them in the Russo-Japanese war. They open with a surprise attack on the enemy's main pacific base with the aim of crippling their naval forces in the region. They then capture territory and solidify their defenses while the enemy regroups and organizes an expedition of their Atlantic forces. Then they use the advantage of defense to intercept the counterattack and win in a decisive battle. Since at that point they will have the upper hand, they can get a third party to broker peace talks to negotiate a treaty that ensures Japan's demands are met.

Unfortunately, Japan had largely been on the sidelines of WWI. They hadn't really experienced total war, where industrial capacity is as important a factor as fleet maneuvering. They had no way to force the US to end the war, and they had no way to defeat them in a long war.

By 1945, Japan had already lost, and they knew it. The only debate was over how to end it. In the Japanese leadership, there was one faction that called for immediate surrender. There was one faction that called for fighting and dying to the last man. And there was one faction that clung to the hope that if they could get just one real victory, they could use that as leverage to open peace negotiations with better terms- immunity for leadership, lowered reparations, maybe even getting to hang on to some of their continental territory!

Unfortunately, the allies weren't playing nice. They were pissed that they were having to fight Germany again after "beating" them 20 years ago, and the conclusion many came to was that the Treaty of Versailles wasn't tough enough. So they decided fairly early on that they weren't going to set any sort of terms or guarantees whatsoever. They would only accept complete, unconditional surrender.

That was a sticking point for the Japanese. Even if you ignored the guys still naively believing they could hold on to China or Korea, their whole national narrative was based around worship of the Emperor, who could very well be subject to war crimes trials in the event of unconditional surrender. Ironically, after the end of the war the US decided the Emperor would be more useful as an ally and left him in place. Allowing that much of a guarantee to have been made in the Potsdam declaration would have torched Roosevelt/Truman politically, but may have ended the war earlier without the bombs being dropped.

So they felt they couldn't go with the first faction, who wanted to surrender now. The "fight to the death" faction were not very popular either, for obvious reasons. So the Japanese leadership settled on the hope that they could wrangle a negotiated peace.

To negotiate a peace treaty like this, you need a third party. One who is as neutral as possible, but strong and respected enough that the warring nations will have to listen to them as a mediator. In the Russo-Japanese war, it had been the US. In WWII, Japan was counting on using the USSR for this purpose. The Soviets were allied to the US, but they also had a nonaggression pact with Japan. It had to be the Soviets. Other neutral nations, like Switzerland or the Vatican, were too weak to stand up to US pressure.

To that end, in the summer of 1945 Japan was already reaching out to Russia, hoping to see if they could get peace talks started. What Japan didn't know was that the US had secured a guarantee from the USSR to break their nonaggression pact and declare war on Japan a certain number of months after the end of hostilities in Europe. The Soviets played Japan along, because as war-weary as they were, they were also interested in securing some strategic islands that could be used to defend their eastern holdings.

What gets overlooked in a lot of US narratives about the war is that the Soviets invaded Manchuria the same week the atomic bombs were dropped. The Japanese leadership was actually meeting about the Soviets when they first received word about Nagasaki. The Japanese had focused on fortifying their defenses to the south, and were relatively open to attacks from the north. Some estimates predicted the Soviets would reach Tokyo within two weeks.

You have to think about the weight on the Japanese decision to surrender that the Soviet invasion had vs that of the bombs. The bombs were still largely an unknown. The US press had some articles about them, but you couldn't trust enemy propaganda. Their own scientists swore that if the US had atomic bombs they couldn't have more than a couple of them. The really awful effects of radiation poisoning hadn't fully begun to show yet. And in the end, the destruction of the atomic bombs was not really any more than the destruction of conventional American bombing. It just took one plane instead of a thousand. Nuclear weapons didn't have quite the same fear behind them that we do today after the cold war.

By comparison, the Soviet declaration of war completely ruined their entire strategy. There was no more hope of getting a negotiated peace, and they had a new military threat approaching from the north. A threat that was conventional and understood, unlike the weird new bombs the US was boasting about. The Russians had placed them in Checkmate.

Did the US have to drop the bombs? In hindsight, probably not, but the US didn't necessarily know or appreciate that at the time. It probably would have been better if they had taken a slower approach, let the Russians declare war, and see how the notoriously inept and rigid Japanese war council would react. But these decisions were being made by military men, and military doctrine says that you strike with everything you have all at the same time to deliver maximum effect.

There is the possibility that without the bombs Japan might still not have surrendered. Or it could be that if the Soviet contribution was more apparent the USSR would have demanded part of Japan as they did Germany and Korea. There's no real way to know now.


Looking for peace

New studies of the US, Japanese and Soviet diplomatic archives suggest that Truman’s main motive was to limit Soviet expansion in Asia, Kuznick claims. Japan surrendered because the Soviet Union began an invasion a few days after the Hiroshima bombing, not because of the atomic bombs themselves, he says.

According to an account by Walter Brown, assistant to then-US secretary of state James Byrnes, Truman agreed at a meeting three days before the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima that Japan was “looking for peace”. Truman was told by his army generals, Douglas Macarthur and Dwight Eisenhower, and his naval chief of staff, William Leahy, that there was no military need to use the bomb.

“Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war in Japan,” says Selden. Truman was also worried that he would be accused of wasting money on the Manhattan Project to build the first nuclear bombs, if the bomb was not used, he adds.

Kuznick and Selden’s arguments, however, were dismissed as “discredited” by Lawrence Freedman, a war expert from King’s College London, UK. He says that Truman’s decision to bomb Hiroshima was “understandable in the circumstances”.

Truman’s main aim had been to end the war with Japan, Freedman says, but adds that, with the wisdom of hindsight, the bombing may not have been militarily justified. Some people assumed that the US always had “a malicious and nasty motive”, he says, “but it ain’t necessarily so.”


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/>Animals exposed to the bikini atomic bomb blasts arrive at Washington Navy Yard on board the animal laboratory ship Burleson on Sept. 30, 1946. Seaman Apprentice Dale Lipps is holding Pig311. Goat B.O. Plenty is held by Seaman Apprentice R.M. Williamson. (Nasionale Argief)

The big plan for tiny Bikini

According to the testing schedule, the U.S. plan was to demolish a 95-vessel fleet of obsolete warships on June 30, 1946 with an airdropped atomic bomb. Reporters, U.S. politicians, and representatives from the major governments of the world would witness events from distant observation ships.

On July 24, a second bomb, this time detonated underwater, would destroy any surviving naval vessels.

These two sequential tests were intended to allow comparison of air-detonated versus underwater-detonated atomic bombs in terms of destructive power to warships. The very future of naval warfare in the advent of the atomic bomb was in the balance.

Many assumed the tests would clearly show that naval ships were now obsolete, and that air forces represented the future of global warfare.

But when June 30 arrived, the airdrop bombing didn’t go as planned. The bomber missed his target by more than a third of a mile, so the bomb caused much less ship damage than anticipated.

The subsequent underwater bomb detonation didn’t go so well either.

It unexpectedly produced a spray of highly radioactive water that extensively contaminated everything it landed on. Naval inspectors couldn’t even return to the area to assess ship damage because of the threat of deadly radiation doses from the bomb’s “fallout” – the radioactivity produced by the explosion.

All future bomb testing was canceled until the military could evaluate what had gone wrong and come up with another testing strategy.

/>Atomic cloud formation from the Baker Day explosion over Bikini Lagoon. (Nasionale Argief)

And even more bombings to follow

The United States did not, however, abandon little Bikini. It had even bigger plans with bigger bombs in mind. Ultimately, there would be 23 Bikini test bombings, spread over 12 years, comparing different bomb sizes, before the United States finally moved nuclear bomb testing to other locations, leaving Bikini to recover as best it could.

The most dramatic change in the testing at Bikini occurred in 1954, when the bomb designs switched from fission to fusion mechanisms.

Fission bombs – the type dropped on Japan – explode when heavy elements like uranium split apart. Fusion bombs, in contrast, explode when light atoms like deuterium join together.

Fusion bombs, often called “hydrogen” or “thermonuclear” bombs, can produce much larger explosions.

The United States military learned about the power of fusion energy the hard way, when they first tested a fusion bomb on Bikini. Based on the expected size of the explosion, a swath of the Pacific Ocean the size of Wisconsin was blockaded to protect ships from entering the fallout zone.

On March 1, 1954, the bomb detonated just as planned – but still there were a couple of problems.

The bomb turned out to be 1,100 times larger than the Hiroshima bomb, rather than the expected 450 times. And the prevailing westerly winds turned out to be stronger than meteorologists had predicted.

Die resultaat? Widespread fallout contamination to islands hundreds of miles downwind from the test site and, consequently, high radiation exposures to the Marshall Islanders who lived on them.

/>The cruiser Pensacola's afterdeck, looking forward, showing damage inflicted during the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests at Bikini, in July of 1946. Men in the foreground are examining the remains of equipment placed on her deck to test the effects of the bomb explosion. Note the caution signs painted on the Grey Ghost's after eight-inch gun turret, presumably to reduce fire risks and prevent the taking of radioactive items as souvenirs. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Dealing with the fallout, for decades

Three days after the detonation of the bomb, radioactive dust had settled on the ground of downwind islands to depths up to half an inch.

Natives from badly contaminated islands were evacuated to Kwajalein – an upwind, uncontaminated atoll that was home to a large U.S. military base – where their health status was assessed.

Residents of the Rongelap Atoll – Bikini’s downwind neighbor – received particularly high radiation doses. They had burns on their skin and depressed blood counts.

Islanders from other atolls did not receive doses high enough to induce such symptoms. However, as I explain in my book “Strange Glow: The Story of Radiation,” even those who didn’t have any radiation sickness at the time received doses high enough to put them at increased cancer risk, particularly for thyroid cancers and leukemia.

What happened to the Marshall Islanders next is a sad story of their constant relocation from island to island, trying to avoid the radioactivity that lingered for decades.

Over the years following the testing, the Marshall Islanders living on the fallout-contaminated islands ended up breathing, absorbing, drinking and eating considerable amounts of radioactivity.

In the 1960s, cancers started to appear among the islanders.

For almost 50 years, the United States government studied their health and provided medical care. But the government study ended in 1998, and the islanders were then expected to find their own medical care and submit their radiation-related health bills to a Nuclear Claims Tribunal, in order to collect compensation.

/>"Baker Day" atomic bomb underwater explosion, seen from shore of Bikini Atoll, on July 25, 1946. (National Archives)

Marshall Islanders still waiting for justice

By 2009, the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, funded by Congress and overseen by Marshall Islands judges to pay compensation for radiation-related health and property claims, exhausted its allocated funds with $45.8 million in personal injury claims still owed the victims.

At present, about half of the valid claimants have died waiting for their compensation.

Congress shows no inclination to replenish the empty fund, so it’s unlikely the remaining survivors will ever see their money.

But if the Marshall Islanders cannot get financial compensation, perhaps they can still win a moral victory. They hope to force the United States and eight other nuclear weapons states into keeping another broken promise, this one made via the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

This international agreement between 191 sovereign nations entered into force in 1970 and was renewed indefinitely in 1995. It aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and work toward disarmament.

In 2014, the Marshall Islands claimed that the nine nuclear-armed nations – China, Britain, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States – have not fulfilled their treaty obligations.

The Marshall Islanders are seeking legal action in the United Nations International Court of Justice in The Hague. They’ve asked the court to require these countries to take substantive action toward nuclear disarmament.

Despite the fact that India, North Korea, Israel and Pakistan are not among the 191 nations that are signatories of the treaty, the Marshall Islands’ suit still contends that these four nations “have the obligation under customary international law to pursue [disarmament] negotiations in good faith.”

The process is currently stalled due to jurisdictional squabbling. Regardless, experts in international law say the prospects for success through this David versus Goliath approach are slim.

But even if they don’t win in the courtroom, the Marshall Islands might shame these nations in the court of public opinion and draw new attention to the dire human consequences of nuclear weapons.

That in itself can be counted as a small victory, for a people who have seldom been on the winning side of anything. Time will tell how this all turns out, but more than 70 years since the first bomb test, the Marshall Islanders are well accustomed to waiting.

/>In this March 14, 1946, file photo, people wave farewell to their Bikini Atoll home from a Navy LST transporting them to a new home on Rongerik Atoll 109 miles away. (Clarence Hamm/AP)

Timothy J. Jorgensen is associate professor of Radiation Medicine, and Director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program, at Georgetown University. His scientific expertise is in radiation biology, cancer epidemiology, and public health.

He is board certified in public health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners (NBPHE). He serves on the National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP), he chairs the Georgetown University Radiation Safety Committee, and he is an associate in the Epidemiology Department at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University. His scientific interests include the genetic determinants of cellular radiation resistance, and the genes that modify the risk of cancer.


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