Today’s amazing wingnut fact

By Steve Plaut:

Now the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were among the most humane acts in human histroy. […] I believe that all Asians, especially Japanese, should celebrate the saving of those lives by having parties and picnics on Hiroshima Day.

Hiroshima pictures. Nagasaki.


They saved many millions of Japanese civilian lives, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of lives of Allied soldiers[.]


Years after the war, Secretary of State James Byrnes claimed that 500,000 American lives would have been lost – and that number has since been repeated “authoritatively”, but in the summer of 1945 US military planners projected 20,000-110,000 combat deaths from the initial November 1945 invasion, with about three to four times that number wounded. […] The conventional bombardment was killing tens of thousands each week in Japan, directly and indirectly.

As well as:

The highest-ranking officer in the Pacific Theater, General Douglas MacArthur, was not consulted beforehand, but said afterward that there was no military justification for the bombings. The same opinion was expressed by Fleet Admiral William Leahy (the Chief of Staff to the President), General Carl Spaatz (commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific), and Brigadier General Carter Clarke (the military intelligence officer who prepared intercepted Japanese cables for U.S. officials)

Well, at least Plaut didn’t suggest the Japanese hold barbecues.


Comments: 39


WARNING SNARK-FREE COMMENT: Believe it or not my father was in the Royal New Zealand Navy and was in Hiroshima within a month of the bombs. It changed him irrevocably. For him the horror of the sick, the wounded and the rotting corpses was unspeakable. The ultimate irony is that children were selling photos to soldiers of the City’s destruction to put food in their mouths. I still look at those pictures of the rubble but cannot imagine the horror that lay beneath.


“Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays” by Paul Fussell. He explains that he would have been sent to fight in Japan if the atom bomb had not ended the war. He makes the point that he and his comrades in the American army in Europe were delighted to hear that Japan had surrendered.


Yeah, you silly Japanese, it’s a good thing we killed a bunch of you, ’cause otherwise we woulda had to kill a bunch of you.


The numbers I have heard from those who oppose the dropping of the atomic bomb of american deaths from an invasion(20,000-100,000) have always struck me as a bit dubios, especially at the lower end. After all, 6000 or so died on Iwo Jima, 10000 or so at Okinawa, are we to believe that casualties would have been similar for invading the Japanese homeland? Not that the bombings (especially nagasaki) cannot be opposed on many other grounds, I have just always found this to be unconvincing.


I just think massive attacks like these, that are specifically DESIGNED to kill as many civilians as possible, are inexcusable, regardless of what kind of rationale you erect as a smokescreen. Some things simply cannot be justified.


This one’s a little tricky. The Japanese probably weren’t going to surrender otherwise. Remember, we dropped the second bomb six days later. If they were on the verge of surrender, surely one would have convinced them. Instead it took two. And, even then, it wasn’t unanimous. I know the civilian casualties were horrible. But the fire bombing of many other Japanese cities killed many more people (since virtually all of their buildings were made of wood).


Of course, I think it’s all a strawman. Regardless of how many/if any lives were saved I don’t see why anyone should really celebrate the complete destruction of those two cities. He’s not suggesting the Germans celebrate the fact we bombed Dresden, is he? Interesting how it’s always the funny lookin’ ones that should celebrate our gracious blowing them to smithereens.


I could dig up quotes from Eisenhower and various other military officials all the time who strongly disagreed that the bombings were necessary, but that is really neither here nor there: you don’t deliberately target civilians. Period. I do not approve of the firebombings either, but the use of atomic weapons was uniquely horrible because of their lingering effects long after the initial devastation.


My understanding is that the strategic purpose of the bombings was to end the war and get into Japan before the Soviets came down and got a foothold into the region, as Stalin was preparing to do.

Russo-Japanese War of the early 20th, etc. Massed forces on the Soviet East.

Correct me if I’m wrong, btw.


Fulsome, that’s exactly how I feel. Regardless of how the various war-ending scenarios may have played out the deths of over 100,000 people is not something to celebrate.


Let me be clear though: there’s no possible excuse for it.


Yeah, you can certainly justify it as the best of a series of shitty options. But it’s certainly not something to be cheered (see the photos Seb found).


Now the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were among the most humane acts in human histroy. […] I believe that all Asians, especially Japanese, should celebrate the saving of those lives by having parties and picnics on Hiroshima Day.

Uhhh… yeah. I can understand the idea that the Japanese would not have surrendered without suffering catastrophic losses and essentially being forced to surrender, but this is just crazy and it’s either tongue-in-cheek (I can’t bear to click on the real column) or he is very uninformed about Japanese culture. Also: “ALL Asians especially Japanese”, huh? Um, way to understand world history. Oh well — they all look alike, after all — they must all be pals!


I agree with Brad, it may have been necessary, but it should still be lamented as a horrific tragedy. Also,Gavin M I think the Soviet foothold in Japan is not just important for geopolitical reasons, but for the immense catastrophe it would have been for the people in those areas that the Soviets occupied. Look at what happened at Katyn, 15,000 Polish officers executed, and that was an allied Slavic nation!! Imagine what would have happened to Japanese (non-white) soldiers and civilians. I am not saying that’s what truman was worried about, but it is a factor to be considered when we look at whether the atomic bombs saved more lives than they cost. In the end, I think they did, but it is not something to be celebrated.


Uhh…I’m probably not well-versed enough in WWII history to be commenting, but that sort of thing never stopped me before:

Why would we be worried about a Soviet toehold in Japan itself? The Soviet army was otherwise occupied by and occupying Europe – you know they took some horrific losses in WWII. Did they really have the wherewithall to attack Japan before us? If they didn’t take Japanese homeland real estate before us, then what difference would our method of conquest make?

And if the feared toehold was just on the surrounding mainland…well, they kind of got that when China went Commie a couple of years later, didn’t they? And the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki really wasn’t going to stop that from happenning, was it? It seems if that was the concern, the nukes weren’t the right way to go about it. They should have nuked Mao’s army.

Everything north of there the Soviets already had, and everything south of there they were blocked by India and the Himalayas. I’m not sure about this Soviet-toehold argument.

Preventing Soviet toeholds seems to have been a pretty common scapegoat for bad policies on our part throughout the existence of the Soviet Union.

Of course, like I said, I know zip about WWII history, so please set me straight if I’m wrong.


I think you are mistaken on several points. 1. Yes, the Soviets suffered huge losses in WWII, worst of any nation, however, would that have stopped stalin from advancing if he thought some advantage could have been gained by entering in the east? Ummm. No.
Also, the Soviet issue was not by any means the sole reason for the bombings, I think, primarily, it was a means of preventing american casualties and bringing the war to an abrupt halt. also, the soviets had ample reason to punish japan, given their humiliating defeat in the 1904 Russo-japan war. Also, the soviets did get their foothold in asia with china going communists in 49, but this was by no means a foregone conclusion in 45.
We do have to realize, in the case of stalin, we are talking about one of the most despicable human beings who ever lived.


Also, did they have the ability to act in the east, hell yes. They had the most powerful land army in the world, and a not insubstantial naval force. Sorry to interupt the snark on sadly no, god knows on my blog we mostly talk about masturbation, but I have this strange hatred for stalin.


I did hear that the atomic bombs were dropped as an experiment so that the Americans could see exactly what would happen to a city when this type of weapon was used.
It’s wrong that they used it, whatever their reasoning behind it. There is no excuse for intentionally unleashing a radioactive hell on people.



Well, there’s nothing strange about hating Stalin. I lived in Russia from 92-94, and still even then his evil hung over the place. It was creepy.

I know that the Soviets had the largest land army at the time, but I was under the impression that that army was for the most part deployed in Europe. I’m unaware of any major Soviet troop presence in East Asia at the end of the war. Did the Soviets fight any major campaigns in east asia at the end of the war? Or the beginning, for that matter?

Again, I find it hard to believe that we would be worried about the Soviets gathering themselves up, pulling out of Europe en masse, and tromping across the entire continent of Asia to launch an all-out assault on the Japanese mainland before we could get there and do it ourselves.

Then again, like you said, it was Stalin that we’re talking about. I think the most likely scenario was that Truman:

1) Didn’t like the projected casualties that might have resulted from an invasion (not that they would have necessarily been higher than Japanese civilian casualties – he just thought they were too high for us to have to take, and in a war, our troops’ lives are worth more than your civilians’ lives).

2) Wanted to get the damned war over with.


3) Had something new to the world and history, and for fuck’s sake was going to be the first and maybe only man to ever use it.


Tsk, all this seriousness over nuclear holocaust! Let’s be optimists, and look toward the future!
3) Had something new to the world and history, and for fuck’s sake was going to be the first and maybe only man to ever use it.
Not if our “Popular” Wartime Preznit has anything to say about it! He’ll nuke Iran, 1st chance he gets. Especially if they don’t attak us first. Doesn’t that just prove no good?


Oops. Only semi-conscious. My last 2 lines were supposed to read:
Especially if they don’t attack us first. Doesn’t that just prove that they’re up to no good?


A post of mine without any typos is like a day without Anita Bryant-a very good thing.


Ever heard the bluegrass great “Jesus hits like the atom bomb?” At some point Lowell Blanchard and the boys break out into a Rap – not bad for honkeys in the 1940s.

“Everybody’s worried ’bout the atomic bomb
But nobody’s worried about the day my Lord will come
When he hits (great God almighty) like an atom bomb
When he comes, when he comes

In nineteen hundred and forty-five
The atom bomb, it came alive.
In nineteen hundred and forty-nine
The USA got very wise
We found out a country across the line
Had an atom bomb of the very same kind
People got worried all over the land
Just like folks got in Japan”


Fuck you, Plaut. Justify it however the fuck you want, we still turned two cities into hell on earth.

Fucking picnics? Parties? Jesus H. Nuclear Christ. I can’t even believe anyone would say something that fucking sociopathic.

I’ve mailed three thousand origami cranes to memorial and peace groups this last month, but I suddenly wish I had them back, because I think it could be an interesting experience for both Stevie and me if we used them in a pyre for him. I don’t think it’d kill him, but it might give him some sense of why we don’t go “Yippee” when we burn people to death. And, even better, why we don’t expect children with raw, weeping radiation burns, dying adults buried in poisonous rubble, or descendents in cancer wards to thank us for our restraint.

My God, Mr. Plaut. You really are a fucking thing, aren’t you.


And, no, you don’t want to read the original column in all its vomitous glory. There’s no columnist photo. I assume this is because whatever “Steve Plaut” is, one’s assessment of its humanity would not be enhanced by visuals.


wha?, the main reason the Russians hadn’t fought any major battles in East Asia is because they weren’t at war with Japan. It was the Yalta agreement that called for Russia to enter the war in August 1945. (That’s when they took the Sakhalin and Kuril Islands, which Russia and Japan are still dithering over.)

Great Soviet Athlete

Was the Soviet Toehold a wrestling move? That threat alone would explain the cold war.


That made me ill, and depressed me mightily.


Ahhh!! It is clear, now.


I think it’s pretty telling that none of the scientists that worked on the creation of the bomb in retrospect believe that it should have been created.

The thing about invading Japan is hard to say. Everywhere else that our troops fought the Japanese, they ended up with only about 5 prisoners of war, and no other survivors. The Japanese hardly ever retreated, and they would fight until almost the last man. Now the difference is those were the soldiers, so how would the civilians have behaved if we had invaded? Would they have fought and resisted until they were all wiped out? Who knows.

I don’t know if dropping the bomb was the best choice in a series of shitty choices, but there probably weren’t many better. I still think it was horrible and that if mankind has ever done anything to deserve sending itself to hell, this was it (well, pretty much everything about WWII could be included. It was the low point of human life in my opinion (and yes, I am overgeneralizing because there were great acts that helped out humanity at the same time, but there were so many horrible acts from Stalin to Hitler to the bomb that it seems generally that this was the lowpoint.))


If I can add a comment here, as some folks in the DU are sick of hearing, I’m actually a professional historian and my dissertation advisor way back when was a Truman specialist so I’ve read a LOT about this. Historians still can’t agree on whether or not the bombs were necessary to end the war, or, just as important, whether Truman THOUGHT the bombs were necessary. Most Truman scholars agree that he thought that they were necessary. The idea that they were dropped as a “test” has long since been discounted. The idea that they were used to scare the Soviets is still argued but the middle ground seems to be that some members of Truman’s administration thought that scaring the Soviets was a useful side benefit, but that it was not the main reason.

BTW, most of the Japanese scholars I have talked with say they think that the first bomb at least was necessary with some debate over whether there should have been more time before the second bomb was dropped to allow Tokyo to digest what had just happened.

What is universally agreed among historians of every stripe however, is that the word “humane” is in no way appropriate.

I tend towards the “Truman made the best choice he could among many shitty choices” school as most of the other choices that were realistically being considered would have caused as many or even more civilian casualities. I have the most doubts abut the 2d bomb. BTW, the casuality figures for Okinawa were..
US 36,000 causalities, 12,000 dead. (I’ve seen higher figures for these as well)
130,000 Japanese civilians killed
between 102,000-120,000 Japanese troops killed.

Can we go back to Cat Wars and making fun of Marie now, please…. I hate when history gets politized and this issue has been over the years as witness the Smithsonian issue a few years ago…


It’s not political for me. It’s simply one completely inhuman fuckwit declaring the worst thing humans have ever done to each other to be “humane”.
The irony is poisonous.
And yes, I’ve heard this view expressed by others before, and my response has been pretty much the same. The picnics are new, though. Congratulations, Steve.

The Dark Avenger

My mother was in a civilian-relocation camp in Shanghai as a guest of the Japanese Imperial Army for 18 months until the Japanese surrendered to the Allies.

I don’t know that she’d have survived if the Japanese Islands had been invaded, as there was some speculation that the Japanese would kill all the POWs, civilian and military, if the invasion took place.

I might throw a barbecue in honor of Mom being released from the Nippon Hilton 60 years ago this month, but I wouldn’t expect the defeated people to feel good about losing a war, especially when it was because the enemy created a spot of hell on earth for a few brief moments.

It should be noted that the original motive to develope the A-bomb was the fact that it wasn’t known how far the Nazis were in developing one in their labs at the time. If Werner Heisenberg had been a bit better in his calculations for the size of the ‘critical mass’, there might’ve been a Nazi bomb after all.


It amazes me at how few people have actually read Truman’s many writings on this subject, starting with his own biographies and moving on to interviews and biographies about the man.

The very notion that he did not suffer the decision is laughable unless you assume from the first that he was lying through his teeth on each and every occasion that he discussed the decision.

And, by the way, quoting MacArthur by way of rebuttal? Give me a frelling break here. Mac would have told you that the moon was blue if it would have somehow damaged Truman. He seemed to hate the man with a passion. And I wonder why he was so enthusiastic about using ‘teh nuke’ on Korean soil some years after WWII.

The notion that we should celebrate anything about the start, middle, or end of the Pacific war is repugnant. But for the love of Bob, try to keep the eye on the ball.


Go ahead and debate the “necessity” of either or both bombs. The truth is, we’ll never know if they were necessary. We’ll also never know how hard the decisions were, and what all the factors were.
What we do know is the kind of suffering and damage that was caused.
Some members of my Japanese-American partner’s family were interned, and despite anything Michelle Malkin might have to say on the matter, it doesn’t sound like it was, you know, summer camp.
So, really, nobody gets points for the way they handled the whole war, from me. Nobody gets points for agonizing over a decision like that.

If you feel it was necessary, that’s one thing, and I consider it debatable at best. But to suggest that it was in any way a good thing, worth celebrating, or humane moves you into a category with less humanity than a tapeworm. At that point, you are not worthy of address as a person. You are a thing.

It’s one thing to have a different opinion, whether you can support it or not. It’s entirely another to be morally repugnant. Plaut can say it. That’s what free speech is about. But I can denounce him for it, too.


wha? said:

I think it’s pretty telling that none of the scientists that worked on the creation of the bomb in retrospect believe that it should have been created.

I don’t know wha?’s sources are, but they are wrong. I have lived in Los Alamos, NM now for over 20 years and I worked as an engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory for over 12 years. I met many “old timers” who were involved in the Manhattan Project. I did not meet a single one who had any regrets or who did not feel that their mission was not absolutely necessary for the security of the US during World War II. I grant that those that did have regrets probably did not continue to work at the laboratory for very long after the war, but to say that “none of the scientists” that worked on the bomb believe it should have been created is completely bogus.


Sorry, I misquoted! It was not wha? but Yosef who said: I think it’s pretty telling that none of the scientists that worked on the creation of the bomb in retrospect believe that it should have been created.

Blame it on the massive migraine i’ve been fighting the past 3 days. My brain just kind of does loop de loops after awhile.


Steve Gilliard sums up my feelings pretty nicely over in his blog:


Some historical background is in order.

The Soviets were quite capable of conducting military operations against the Japanese in the late summer of 1945. Stalin had transferred more than 40 divisions from Europe to the Far East starting in May 1945. These were battle hardened troops, equipped with the latest Soviet equipment, including what was arguably the best (or certainly most of the top 5) tanks in the world. The new divisions joined 40 divisions already in Asia. Facing them was the shadow of the Kwantung Army. The KA had had all of its elite divisions withdrawn. The Soviets had a
2.2:1 ratio advantage in men, 4.8:1 in artillery and tanks and a 2:1 advantage in aircraft.

If your moral calculation is “atomic weapons are baaaad, period”, then nothing will convince you otherwise. If you use a utilitarian moral calculus, then the use of the atomic weapons was a good thing, EVEN FOR ASIANS, given the available options.

Even if the US had not invaded, Japanese casualties would have been in the MILLIONS, unless the US essentially said, “Game over, we won, we’re going home.” Given the unlikelihood of that event, it is reasonable to conclude that the Japanese would have continued fighting at least until September, perhaps even into the winter.

The USAAF was scheduled to begin the destruction of Japan’s railway system in mid August, in preparation for Operation Olympic. Had they done so, millions of Japanese would have died of starvation, even if the Japanese had surrendered on September 2 as they did. Japan’s population was on the brink of starvation when the war ended. Only the existence of an intact rail system allowed the modest quantities of food being grown, as well as the food brought in by the Allies, to be distributed. Thousands still starved to death.


If anyone’s still reading this, there’s a fascinating look at how conservative opinion on the issue has done a 180 here. 1959,National Review: “The indefensibility of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is becoming a part of the national conservative creed.”


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