Sunday, August 9, 2015

Amherst (Selectively) Remembers

First Congregational Church 1:00 PM

In addition to the usual 40+ year Sunday Peace Vigil in town center Amherst's oldest established house of worship, the First Congregational Church, put on their own public display for peace this afternoon by remembering the devastation unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago.

Of course they don't anything special to remember December 7,  "A date which will live in infamy."

And thus far, 70 years later, has probably only been exceeded in infamy, by that Tuesday morning almost 14 years ago when death rained down from a crystal clear blue sky ...

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The bomb(s) ended the war in '45. Millions were saved. Thank God this horrible war did not drag on. Honor those who were killed, yes but honor also those who had to face the awful decision that history has shown to have been the correct one.
I fear the next bomb will be used to start, rather than end a World War.

Larry Kelley said...

There's absolutely no question that if we had to invade the Japanese homeland the casualties on BOTH sides would have been "more than any of us can bear."

Walter Graff said...

Interesting thought has emerged as of late beyond the bomb theory

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/

Anonymous said...

It's not selective in the way you are implying. This year was not a decade demarcation for either Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

Larry Kelley said...

Well did they do anything four years ago on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and 70th for Pearl Harbor?

Rene said...

Larry,

I have to disagree with you on this one. Pearl Harbor was a military attack on a military base killing military personnel using conventional weapons. Yes, it was terrible. The bombings (note plural) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacks aimed primarily at civilian targets (as were the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese citizens) using nuclear weapons, a weapon of mass destruction. The results were several magnitudes of difference.

As to the theory that the atomic bombings ended the war, there's plenty of documentary evidence from several historians that call this theory into question (for example, http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/; http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/?page=1; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-05/hiroshima-bombing-did-not-lead-japanese-surrender-anniversary/6672616)

I understand these views are not yet mainstream, not in the conventional "history" books we feed in our schools, but wait another five to ten years and I think you'll find this view more widespread. OTOH, people are still holding on the belief that the Civil War was not about slavery, so perhaps my timeline is way optimistic.

Larry Kelley said...

Emperor Hirohito in his address aired 8/15, more than a week after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, clearly said "The enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed, incalculable, taking a toll of many innocent lives."

The United States would have defeated Japan without Russia's help, but the cost would have been simply unimaginable.

And I can't even imagine how unimaginably worse the casualties would have been with Russia, who used troops as cannon fodder, engaging Japanese troops, who invented the banzai charge.

Rene said...

Larry,

Thanks for your interesting response. I agree that the US could have/would have defeated Japan with out the Soviet Union's (it was not Russia at the time; not to be pedantic, but the distinction is important) help. However, I think the point that various historians are making is that the threat of the combined US and Soviet forces is what made them decide to surrender and, in fact, that decision had been made prior to the bombings, but the US chose to ignore that decision because they want to show the Soviets the new weapons the US had acquired as a deterrence to Soviet aggression as WWII ended. I think it's actually a little more complicated than I just stated, but I'm greatly summarizing for the sake of the blog format.

Also, just a little more context about the difference between Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

"Pearl Harbor was a military base on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. On Dec. 7, 1941, The Japanese attacked the base resulting in the deaths of 2,335 military personnel and 35 civilians (about). On August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped at atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. It is estimated that on that day 348,000 people were in Hiroshima, and approximately 70,000 (Johnston) – 118,661 died (ICRC) . On August 9, 1945, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. It is estimated that 263,000 were in Nagasaki, and there too an estimated 70,000 were killed (Johnston). In other words, the Japanese attacked a military base killing 2,370 people (mostly military) and the United States attacked two major population centers killing more than 140,000 civilians – at least 60 civilians for every service member killed at Pearl Harbor."

Larry Kelley said...

Well if they had not sucker punched Pearl Harbor the A bombs may not have been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I was somewhat stunned 14 years ago when Eva Schiffer wondered aloud at a Select Board meeting if 9/11, with 3,000 dead -- almost all civilians -- would be remembered in history as being worse than Pearl Harbor, with as you say 2,370 dead, almost all military personnel. Yikes.

And I think mostly all of the civilian deaths occurred from "friendly fire:" anti-aircraft shells that fell back to earth and exploded.

Anonymous said...

Had these bombs not been dropped, the Soviet Union would have almost surely been a much part of the Occupation Forces in Japan (and the Korean peninsula) in the years after 1945. While that does not justify their use, the 20-20 hindsight available after the nearly 40 years of Soviet domination of eastern Europe under the Warsaw Pact hints at what might have happened in Japan….

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with Graff on this one. Many military leaders at the time had no idea of the plans to drop a bomb. Clearly based on information at the time, the US was going to show the rest of the world whatever it needed to in order to stay on the top of the military heap. Countries like Russia may have been allies but were growing to be military mights. Like many other historical "facts", reality is often different than the history books. Like the fact that 9/11 was funded and carried out by Saudi Arabians. Of course many still don't want to accept that fact. Saddest part is Japanese civilians would have been a test tube for something that really wasn't about them, just as innocent Americans were victims of something on 9/11 that was really about Israel and not the United States.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-real-reason-america-used-nuclear-weapons-against-japan-it-was-not-to-end-the-war-or-save-lives/5308192

Rene said...

Larry,

You raise another controversial historical issue. I can't remember where at the moment, but I do remember reading that war with Japan would have happened eventually without Pearl Harbor. There are those who believe Pearl Harbor happened because the Roosevelt administration knew the attack was planned and let it happen because they wanted a reason to go to war, but I personally find that a little too far into the conspiracy realm.

Perhaps Ms Schiffer's remark was in the context of living through WWII, so for her Pearl Harbor had a lot more resonance than 9/11?

I was not aware that most civilian deaths at Pearl Harbor were from "friendly fire" although it makes sense when you think about it.

Over and out for tonight.

Dr. Ed said...

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were warned -- on August 1st, leaflets were dropped warning civilians to leave.

The questionable one was Dresden in Germany. Dresden was an arts city and it was turned into a firestorm. People suffocating in their basements when the fire consumed all the oxygen, people literally catching fire in the streets as they couldn't outrun the fire.

The atomic bomb was really no more horrific than what the hundreds of heavy bombers dropping tons upon tons of bombs had done -- what the Japanese didn't realize is that we only had two of them.

What if we had a whole warehouse full of them?

Instead of just dropping one, what if we had "carpet bombed" with them? What if the Enola Gay had a couple dozen more aboard, dropping one every mile or so, with other planes doing likewise on either side of her? The Japanese neither knew that we didn't have any more nor that we couldn't just roll these off the rack the way that we did the iron bombs -- and even we didn't know that much about radiation and EMP. Those were piston-driven planes with unshielded ignition systems, I doubt the wiring in the bombs themselves was shielded either -- I think we would have run into some serious problems if we'd tried to drop more than one at a time, but even we didn't know that.

The atomic bomb allowed the Japanese to surrender while "saving face" because if we had a few thousand more of them (which we probably said we did), there wouldn't *be* a Japan anymore...

And Larry, Pearl Harbor was not supposed to be quite as much of a sucker punch as it was - Japan screwed up and miscalculated the time difference between Hawaii and DC, something about daylight savings time. They intended to send their ambassador with a "well, this means war" notice a half hour *before* they started bombing Pearl but would up sending him a half hour *after* because they sent him an hour late.

You will notice that all the aircraft carriers were out at sea that day, it was the battleships that were bombed with the Arizona being sunk, and the era of the dreadnaught (whose purpose was to sink other dreadnaught battleships) had passed -- like the sinking of the Lusitania, one does have to wonder the extent to which this really was a surprise.

Dr. Ed said...

The atomic bomb was overwhelming force.

The Japanese back then were like terrorists today, right on down to the suicide bombers. The Japanese are a Western people today, they weren't then -- they were as fanatic as the IslamoFascists are today.

That is why I think our response to Sept 11th ought to have been to nuke Mecca.
Overwhelming force -- it's all that a non-Western culture understands.

Anonymous said...

"Well did they do anything four years ago on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and 70th for Pearl Harbor?"

Well, did you do anything for the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima? Thought not.

Anonymous said...

Boy if we could all live in the baseless, factually ignorant, and self righteous alternate reality of Ed-land. What would we do with ourselves all day? Oh right, we would inundate this blog with novel length spurious emissions from our soap boxes since no one we actually know wants to engage in a conversation with us. Please get a new venue Ed, I'm tired of wearing out my scroll wheel trying to get to the comments beyond yours.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, Hiroshima was warned...

Take a look at this picture and tell me that is less lethal than what was dropped on Hiroshima. The conventional bombing of Tokyo a few days earlier killed more people - many more -- and that went on for two days...

This is OWI Notice #2106, the so called "LeMay Bombing Leaflet" -- a leaflet that was dropped on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and 33 other Japanese cities on August 1, 1945 -- here's how they did it: "Air Force B-29s flying at 20,000 feet dropped 500-pound M-16 fire bomb containers converted into leaflet casings. These opened at 4,000 feet to deploy millions of leaflets, effectively covering a whole Japanese city with information."

The other side said, in Japanese:

“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America's humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”

My source is here

Dr. Ed said...

One other thing:

Hiroshima was a legitimate military target.

The Japanese Second Army was there, preparing to defend the home islands from an American invasion.

Anonymous said...

They worked didn't they. I didn't have to learn Japanese growing up, did you?

Anonymous said...

The debate will go on throughout all of human history. Shoula, coulda, woulda. WWIII happening now?

Joseph Moroco said...

Per Anonymous 1:28

"They worked didn't they. I didn't have to learn Japanese growing up, did you?"

So the Japanese have lost their navy. Their army is scattered and isolated across Pacific Islands and China. Now if we didn't A-Bomb them, they would have been able to rebuild a navy, cross the ocean take over the USA and insist we all learn Japanese.

I shall be kind and not comment on the nature of anonymous' thought process.

Dr. Ed said...

Joseph -- Why the massive estimates of US casualties in an invasion of the home islands?

Could it perhaps have had something to do with the fact that maybe their army wasn't as scattered as you believe and that significant parts of it were massed in places like -- ummmm -- Hiroshima?

Anonymous said...

Hey Joey,
When you pick a fight and lose, don't cry about how you got your ass kicked.
Different era and way of life. Show some respect for the people who gave so much so you have the FREEDOM to second guess their actions 70 years later.
Gee, thanks for sparing me your delusions of how I think. Oh and by the way, what's it like to be the only member of your own little nut-job club?

Joseph Moroco said...

Mr. I mean Doc Ed,

No matter how much of the army was still in Japan, there was no chance for Japan at that point to come back to the point they could resume large scale offensive actions with or without the bomb and conquer America and substitute the Japanese language for English as Anonymous 1:28 contended. I was not contending it would be a walkover.

That said, my father was was one of the first soldiers to land in the army of occupation. He said the people were starving. He met a Dutch woman who told him the hunger had been vast for a quite a while before surrender. He also said you could punch a hole through the tanks they built to resist invasion and they were beaten and knew they were beaten.

He thought the bombs were unnecessary and an atrocity. He wasn't the only one. MacArthur and Eisenhower thought so as well. Here is a link to the American military leaders who felt so.

http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/atomicdec.htm

Joseph Moroco said...

Anonymous 3:02,

I assume you are also Anonymous 1:28.

I am humbly sorry to have hit a nerve because you think that the bomb would have changed the language in use here.

I tried to be charitable, but in the words of Oscar Wilde, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Certainly, your military service was on a par with the veterans of that era.