LOOKING AT HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI IN CONTEXT

The names Hiroshima and Nagasaki today immediately bring to mind the thought of mushroom clouds and horrendous destruction.  On August 6, 1945, the U. S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, followed by the second bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, just three days later.  More than 200,000 people were immediately killed, many of them civilians.  If we can point to one positive note in all this horror–and I realize that that is a stretch–it is the fact that not one atomic or nuclear weapon has been unleashed on human beings ever since.

There are three questions, however, that i would like to ask, some 70 years later, in more of a historical context:  Since the U. S. and its Allies had two powerful enemies at that time, why did we drop two bombs on Japan, rather than the second one on Germany? When will those two nations, Germany and Japan, which are now among our staunchest allies, upgrade their self-defense forces into actual military forces?  And, how can the world take thermonuclear annihilation totally out of every country’s arsenal, and prevent it from ever being used again?  Now, I can only surmise in my discussion.

First:  When I think of World War II, the Axis Powers, was really just Germany and Japan, and Italy was more or less included in the entourage.  By having two enemy countries, on two different continents, the Allies were forced to divide their resources–manpower, weaponry and strategic planning–between the two different theaters of operations.  Did we drop two bombs over Japan, and none over Germany, because they were ethnically different from our primarily European heritage?  Or was Japan–evean island nation, surrounded by water–considered the safer target for the weaponry, the potential fall-out from which had never been observed before, in a populated area?

Second:  Germany and Japan, with their 80.6 million and 127.3 million populations, respectively, would be strong military allies, one in Europe and the other in the Asia-Pacific.  Given the recent aggressiveness of both Russia and China, their manpower, as well as their financial and technological resources, would be invaluable.  Following the horrors of World War II, the U. S. helped them both re-write their Constitutions to specifically preclude any armed forces, except for self-defense.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been talking, in Parliament, about re-configuring the self-defense force to assume more of a military role; however, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has not.

Third:  While the first two points are more for discussion purposes, the third is truly of utmost importance.  The first two, however, do suggest important considerations in whatever approaches the various nations of the world take in order to address the third one.  More than one terrorist nations/groups might work in concert, and in different regions of the world. The more nations that can be encouraged to work against the use of nuclear weapons not only makes the non-proliferation effort stronger; but, it also suggests a larger force working against any rogue interests.

Some rogue nations/groups have ideological connections, while others do not.  In the past, the various nuclear-armed countries have worked together to halt nuclear proliferation.  Additionally, the M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) concept has been successful; because, most countries realize that the full-scale usage of high-yield nuclear weapons, by two opposing sides, would annihilate both the attacking country and the one that retaliates.

The most important point in this is that we cannot assume that the rogue groups interpret these ideas as the rest of the world does?  As we have seen in the Middle East, some might actually not abide by M.A.D. if they believe that they truly have nothing to lose.  I clearly do not know the answers to the questions that I have posed; however, I just do not see them written or talked about in the media, or in various journals.

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  1. #1 by cheekos on August 9, 2015 - 5:15 AM

    If you regard my third point as being similar to the debate over the Iran Nuclear Deal, you may wish to read my recent blog post, and don’t miss Trudy Rubin’s column, from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which provides a good analysis of it: https://thetruthoncommonsense.com/2015/07/31/the-iran-nuclear-deal-the-best-option-among-several-bad-choices/.

  2. #2 by maxcat07 on August 9, 2015 - 9:18 PM

    One interesting point, contained in a fascinating book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes, is that the bomb wasn’t practically ready until almost the fall of Germany, and as such wasn’t deemed needed for the European theater. Following V-E day, most military experts felt that it would still take some time to defeat Japan, as the Japanese people so revered their Emperor they were making homemade bombs, willing to die in house to house fighting.

    • #3 by cheekos on August 12, 2015 - 1:32 AM

      Great point, MaxCat. That sheds a little light on why the U. S. dropped the two bombs on Japan, and none on Germany. In fact, 70 years later, I guess that we will really never know for sure.

      • #4 by breakingmad14 on August 12, 2015 - 3:01 AM

        I don’t imagine we ever will. Once the “project” moved from the scientists to the military, too many secrets were withheld.

  3. #5 by Rob on September 7, 2015 - 5:58 PM

    In fact, 70 years later, I guess that we will really never know for sure.

    Won’t know for sure!!!!!!
    The war with Germany was over!!!!!!!!!! You don’t bomb someone after the fact!
    Besides, Germany had been utterly destroyed. There wouldn’t have been a target worth using an A-bomb.

    • #6 by cheekos on September 7, 2015 - 8:31 PM

      Valid point! Yes, the war had just ended in Europe. By the way, a prior comment had already noted that.

  4. #7 by Rob on September 7, 2015 - 6:00 PM

    Also, The fire-bombing of Dresden was the equivalent of an A-bomb. The firestorm sucked the oxygen and life out of everything there.

    • #8 by cheekos on September 7, 2015 - 8:34 PM

      The bombing of Dresden goes both ways. The Blitz over London seemed to merely give the Brits more of the proverbial “stiff upper lip”.

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