Friday, October 23, 2009

Guess The Publication.

Without googling guess which publication this passage appears in:
I doubt there will be an American apology in my lifetime for the holocausts of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. I count them as atrocities, and don't buy the convenient line that they saved tens of thousands of American lives.
It's not the Morning Star or the Socialist Worker.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Without googling I'd guess either Accountancy Age or The Grocer's Weekly.

With Googling I'd guess The Economist.

TDK said...

With Googling, its not a guess.

I first assumed Independent/Guardian/BBC but then I thought that isn't shocking any more. So I thought Telegraph (after all the group did a positive review of Human Smoke recently).

When you think about it, a student growing up would never have encountered a reasoned defence of those events, unless they went out of their way to look for it. Conversely they will have met many people who were too willing to call them atrocities.

Ross said...

TDK- thats a good point, and it is probably why "Banyan" doesn't even feel a need to justify his rather revisionist position that allied casualties played no part in the decision to bomb Japanese cities.

tolkein said...

I don't know enough about Tokyo but I tend to agree about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I quite agree that shortening the war saved hundreds of thousands of lives, Japanese and American and that the prospect of forced landings in the face of stiff resistance horrified any rational actor. But the problem was that a negotiated peace, not unconditional surrender, was available and rejected in preference for seeking unconditional surrender. I don't believe in malign conspiracy theories and think the Allies didn't realise the moral squalor of their decision in their understanable desire to minimise casualties. But Hiroshima and then, worse, Nagasaki, were like a hostage taker threatening a husband that if he didn't surrender, we'll kill your wife and then each daughter in turn. What should the Americans have done if the Japanese hadn't surrendered after Nagasaki? Turn Japan into nuclear rubble? Killing civilians as a matter of policy till victory was achieved?

And I regard the war as a 'good' war for the Allies. We had justice on our side. Victory for the Nazis or Japanese would have seen even more barbarism. We had to put up with the Communists, I know, but 40 years later, they too popped into oblivion, thank God.
We should recognise that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes (I don't think Dresden was, by the way), and we only forget this because the Japanese thought we were monstrous enough to keep on dealing out this death to their cities if they didn't surrender.

Ross said...

Tolkien it is a matter of legitimate debate whether the bombing were justified, but what the Economist's correspondent is saying is that the idea it would save lives is a "Convenient excuse", as though it weren't the real reason for the decision the Americans took, when all the available evidence shows that this was there reasoning and they had given a lot of thought into how bloody an invasion of Japan would be.

"the problem was that a negotiated peace, not unconditional surrender, was available and rejected in preference for seeking unconditional surrender."

That's often said, but whilst there were some in the Japanese estalishment who may have favoured a negotiated settlement, who was actually offering a negotiated peace. Even after the bombs, there was still some resistance to surrender.

tolkein said...

Ross, I agree that there was still some resistance to surrender after Nagasaki - indeed some militarists attempted a coup to prevent the Emperor's broadcast, and it may well be that the US didn't trust the negotiated peace-all this means is that I think the Allies had good justification for their actions. But their actions amounted to deliberate bombing of civilian targets and they would have kept going until the Japanese surrendered.

I agree that it wasn't a convenient excuse. The prospective casualties should have made anyone blench.

Matthew said...

On nuking Japan, there must be a limit to the saving lives argument - say the Allies had captured 250,000 Japanese soldiers and were keeping them captive on a base somewhere. Intelligence reports showed that the Japanese government (or important factions within) would never surrender because it believed that this 250,000 strong body would be able to fight its way out of US captivity (whatever its security) and relieve the homeland (a Wenk-style fantasy, but believed widely). So nuking (or shooting) the PoWs is the only way to solve the problem, and saves US lives. But...

[Incidentally I don't understand TDK's point - I'm only in my 30s and have encountered far more pro-bombing arguments than anti-, and almost all the former in textbooks and on the BBC etc. 'Banyan' is 48, and I can't believe he has not encountered any pro-bombing arguments. Perhaps its where you look?]

Ross said...

Matthew- Yes it's a moral dilemna. Although is there any reason why it's more acceptable to kill conscripted soldiers and sailors than civilians. Civilians arguably had more choice in how the militarist government came to power than young soldiers.

Just to emphasise, I wasn't expressing an opinion on whether it was justified to nuke and firebomb Japanese cities in order to save more lives, just the notion that it was some sort of post facto excuse the Truman administration came up with.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Sounds like the Fail waving the anti-American flag to me.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

The eldest, ten years old at the time, took great umbrage at this theory when her class teacher offered Hiroshima up without any context whatsoever. I'll never forget his worried little face when he said 'She knows rather a lot about World War Two for her age, doesn't she?'.

I think it was the World At War episode that did it. The one showing Japanese children younger than her with bayonets fixed, ready to die for the Emperor should the Allies set foot on the homeland, that might have convinced her that the missing context wasn't convenience, but necessity. Funny how a ten-year old can figure it out but all these 'experts' can't.