Monday, 10 August 2020

Why the US did not need to use the atomic bomb on Japan

Douglas Murray correctly points that U.S. President Truman in early august 1945 did not know that the “war in the East” against Japan would end on 2 September. (“What future do we have if the Left destroys our past,” Comment, August 8; ) . We also know from personal interviews conducted post war with Truman, that he continued, in public, to assert he felt he “had to do it” [drop the atom bomb] ( manuscript of interview with Truman conducted in 1963 by Dr Daneil Snowman, now with the Institute of Historical Research at London University (personal communication, 8 August 2020) But we also know from many contemporary records, that President Truman was advised by many senior advisors ( mainstream Democrat, not left-wing) before he authorised the use of atomic bombs, that the war was already won, and no land invasion- with the potential loss of a million US servicemen’s lives – was not going to be necessary. In a wide-ranging commentary published in the Los Angeles Times on August 5 (“ U.S. leaders knew we didn’t have to drop atomic bombs on Japan to win the war. We did it anyway, “ four eminent academic historians gave multiple examples of this advice.(Gar Alperovitz, author of “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” Martin J. Sherwin, professor of history at George Mason University and author of the forthcoming “Gambling With Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette From Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis; Peter Kuznick of the American University, Washington DC; and historian Dr Kai Bird) The recall that Truman knew that any Soviet invasion ( of northern Japan) would knock Japan out of the war. At the summit in Potsdam, Germany, on July 17, 1945 following Stalin’s assurance that the Soviets were coming in on schedule, Truman wrote in his diary, “He’ll be in the Jap War on August 15. Fini Japs when that comes about.” The next day, he assured his wife, “We’ll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won’t be killed!” The Soviets invaded Japanese-held Manchuria (China) at midnight on Aug. 8 and quickly destroyed the vaunted Kwantung Army. Seven of the United States’ eight five-star Army and Navy officers in 1945 agreed with the Navy’s vitriolic assessment. Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and Henry “Hap” Arnold and Admirals William Leahy, Chester Nimitz, Ernest King, and William Halsey are on record stating that the atomic bombs were either militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible, or both. No one was more impassioned in his condemnation than Leahy, Truman’s chief of staff, who wrote in his memoir “that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender …. In being the first to use it we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”

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