Hiroshima AND Nagasaki: The Inside Story

L. Reichard White, August 11, 2009
    At 8:16 on the morning of August 6, 1945, the world got a glimpse of its own mortality. At that moment, the city of Hiroshima was obliterated by a fireball that sent waves of searing heat, then a deafening concussion, across the landscape. Three days later, a second bomb hit Nagasaki. … [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower said in 1963 "It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
    … Besides the Manhattan Project’s internal momentum was an external motive. Its leaders had to justify the $2 billion ($26 billion in today’s dollars) expense to Congress and the public… Byrnes…warned Roosevelt that political scandal would follow if it [the atomic bomb] was not used. … "How would you get Congress to appropriate money for atomic energy research [after the war] if you do not show results for the money which has been spent already?" …the U.S. had produced two types of bombs–one using uranium, the other plutonium. Whenever anyone suggested that the moment the bomb was dropped the war would be over, [bureaucrat] Groves countered, "Not until we drop two bombs on Japan." As [historian] Goldberg explains… "One bomb justified Oak Ridge, the second justified Hanford." Hiroshima was hit with the uranium bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy"; the plutonium bomb, "Fat Man," was used against Nagasaki.

From Why We Dropped The Bomb By William Lanouette, CIVILIZATION, The Magazine of the Library of Congress, January/February 1995

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ADDENDUM (After 32 comments):

It’s hard for Americans who identify with the U.S. Government to accept the idea that that organization could have engaged in such horrendous acts — twice in three days — without pristine motives.

Here’s what Vietnam era U.S. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara — who was part of Gen. Curtis LeMay’s command when the bombs were dropped — thought about it:

McNamara: “He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals.




49 Responses to “Hiroshima AND Nagasaki: The Inside Story”

  1. "'One bomb justified Oak Ridge, the second justified Hanford.''" Hiroshima was hit with the uranium bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy…"

    The idea that the American political / military establishment would drop nuclear bombs on Japan simply to deter parliamentary fallout over Manhattan Project expenditures certainly would mark our government – if not our entire culture – as irredeemably evil. That's Goldberg's agenda, and his evidence is nonexistent. This "account" ranks up there with phantom gunmen on grassy knolls and temperate continents inside a hollow earth.

  2. On the contrary… The people who made the decision to drop these weapons were as evil as they came, including Truman. However, the majority of military leaders, including Eisenhower, were adamantly opposed to the use of such weapons and feared for the unraveling of Christian morals in the US if used. 68% of the scientists at the Manhattan Project also did not want to use such weapons and Oppenheimer spent the rest of his life trying to undo the harm he had caused by their development.

    There is unspeakable evil in the United States government which began in modern times with Truman and his supporters and is being carried right up to the present day. However, there has been indication of nobility and Humanity as well as Eisenhower demonstrated then… and others are demonstrating now…

  3. [...] http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2009/08/11/hiroshima-and-nagasaki-the-inside-story/ [...]

  4. As a Native American, I beg to differ. US evil did not begin in 1945, but 1492 – 10 million murdered on this northern amerikan continent alone. AND 100 million buffalo.

  5. Mr. Seals:

    Your point is well taken.

  6. Most of the people who condemn the bombing havn't read the history of our plan to invade Japan and the estimates of the many hundreds of thousands of casualties our military would have suffered along with the millions of Japanese who would have been killed. Roughly 250, 000 people died directly because of the bombings, but it is a small amount compared to the total that would have died if we would have invaded. One of the secrets that was never talked about is how many cases of mutiny occurred on the part of US soldiers that had fought all across Europe and then were put on boats to be sent to invade Japan. I talked to some of the men who would have been involved in the invasion and they were relieved that the bombs were dropped. One man said "Those bombs saved our lives".

  7. To me this whole question of the Atomic bombing of Japan misses the real points, although it should be borne in mind that America had been fighting a brutal war with Japan for almost four years at this point, Japanese atrocities against P.O.W.'s were well known and also against China for a decade before that. I don't doubt for an instant that Japan would have used the bomb if IT had had it. The REAL POINT is could war with Japan have been avoided IN THE FIRST PLACE (in which case there would have been no atomic attack) and did the war benefit America in any way. Was war with Japan in America's best interests? I would argue that war could have been very, very easily avoided and didn't help America in any way at all. FDR bears a great deal of blame for the war with Japan in my view.

  8. Harry Truman–the failed haberdasher, the "Senator from Pendergast"–was a war criminal, with one big difference: He was on the side that won. No Nuremberg-like gig for Harry.

    Japan in August 1945 was militarily kaput. The Imperial Japanese Navy? WHAT Imperial Japanese Navy? All they had left were a few cruisers and tin cans, and they were in port for lack of fuel. The Japanese merchant fleet? WHAT merchant fleet? It was on the bottom.

    Nothing was getting in or out of Japan. The USN controlled the seas, and the USAAF was bombing the hell of 'em at will.

  9. And yet a lot of this just didn't register with the American political and military leaders at the time. FDR and his advisers felt it critical to gain Soviet support against Japan. To such an extent that this was one of the reasons he was so submissive to Stalin at Yalta (see major-General J.F.C. Fuller's writings). It was felt – wrongly with benefit of hindsight – that America still had a long way to go to defeat Japan (see the United States Strategic Bombing survey). There was a tendency to overestimate the enemy and underestimate the extent of damage they had suffered. This was also true in Europe. Eisenhower kept looking for the mythical "National Redoubt" where Hitler was supposedly going to make his last stand in Bavaria and the Austrian Alps.

  10. One thing that has to be considered is the level of hatred in America towards our “enemies” then. There was total demonization of the Japanese (referred to as Japs, little monkeys, etc). Total militarization – I was a toddler then but all of my toys were military toys. In my opinion, the American public wouldn’t have minded dropping 100 atomic weapons on them. Our government leaders were probably more constrained about this bombing than the average American would have been at the time. War is so enobling – it brings out the killer ape in us.

  11. Thank you. Important contribution. Start Loving, 28 Year Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil, White House, DC http://prop1.org

  12. Exactly. You have to place the event within the context of the time. Japan's barbaric treatment of P.O.W.'s, slave labor camps, countless atrocities in China, the Siam 'death railway', the Bataan 'death march', etc. All of these things (and hundreds others) helped to fuel the atmosphere against which it occurred. People typing at their keyboard 64 years later don't appreciate this. But the real question is could the USA have avoided the war with a different foreign policy?

  13. WW II, more than anything else, should prove to all people of good will that war is an abomination and, truly, a racket. FDR set up Pearl Harbor. That evidence is overwhelming, but the American sheeple are too invested in the mythology of "the greatest country in the world" to look at it. Same for the cold war. Even as a 16 year old, I knew it was pure BS. The Soviets couldn't make toilet paper. And every year a consortium of US banks would bail out the Soviet's failed harvests. But the stupid people, led by the best politicians money could buy, never figured it out. When the USSR fell under it's own weight the CIA was the last to know. Gee, we the people really get value out of that bunch, don't we? Come on, people, wake up. The reason our rulers scream "conspiracy theory" every time someone gets close to the truth is because these dirtbags do cause all the problems. And if 9-11 is the basis of all "we've" done around the world since that day, wouldn't a real investigation be in order? But to question the government's conspiracy theory is to labeled a crackpot by the elites. Likewise, to lay the blame of the worldwide financial meltdown at the feet of the federal reserve, and demand that it be audited, is to show one self to be "unsophisticated". My fellow Americans, welcome to the third world!

  14. Japan was ready to surrender. The main obstacle was "unconditional surrender,"which we abandoned anyway with the retention of the emperor.
    A significant factor in favor of using the bombs was to keep Russia out.
    Eisenhower, McArthur and Dulles were firmly opposed to use of the bombs against civilians. They lost…and so did we.
    A good movie to watch is "White Light/Black Rain." a 2007 documentary by survivors.

  15. Actually the bombs were used to cover the USSR's entry into the war against Japan.

  16. They could have exploded the bomb on an atoll in the Pacific which would not have killed innocent civilians, but would have shown the Japanese leadership what that horrible weapon could do.

    As usual, it’s all about money.

  17. There was and still is no justification for the use of such a horrendeous weapon on a civilian population. Japan's treatment of POWs or atrocities does in no way excuse it's use. Using a weapon of mass destruction to correct a wrong does not make it right. Why couldn't the weapon have been demonstrated first on a military target, surely this would have ended the war as well. Think about it, 2 bombs dropped in the middle of a city and in an instance 200k people were killed. Maybe in your warped mind you can justify using one but two, outrageous. Would the U.S. have dropped a bomb on Berlin if the war had not ended there yet? Some how I don't think so.

  18. Actaully the bombing of Germany with conventional weaponry was probably considerably worse. Take Dresden for instance. And so late in the war too. I question the logic and necessity of the war with Japan ITSELF.

  19. You couldn't be more wrong here.

  20. Andy, I mean, not Don, who is absolutely correct.

  21. I'm amazed at how many people buy into the absurd notion of the "millions of lives that were saved" by the unbelievable atrocity of nuking two cities. Note how the numbers keep increasing, one day it'll be billions no doubt.

    I think two key factors are at work here:

    1. Just about everybody wants to see themselves as decent and on the "right" side

    2. Far too many individuals get their identity from the group or groups they belong to. This, of course, is encouraged by almost all groups, including street gangs, organized religions, and nations.

    So if the group does something that might be seen as despicable, best put a "spin" on it in order to continue seeing the group — and yourself — as virtuous.

    The solution? Stop believing in groups, stop substituting the group's identity for your own.

    This, of course, has been and will continue to be resisted mightily by all with vested interests, no big surprise. Note how much time the public "schools" spend encouraging individual thought and the pursuit of satisfying lives for the individual… ha.

    Of course Truman was a mass murderer. Not the first, not the last.

  22. YES, guest!

    You might find “Dunbar’s number” interesting in this regard – – – and “The Iron Law of Oligarchy” as well. HERE:

    http://common-sense1.blogspot.com/2006/08/iron-law-illustration.html

  23. Why did we *have to* invade Japan? Japan was de-fanged. That country was a wreck, not a threat to anybody. Why waste our soldiers' lives? I wonder if many Americans would have ended up not supporting an invasion? And, why require UNconditional surrender? Maybe, like, I dunno, we could have thrown the Japanese a bone or two – much better than dropping a bomb on civilians.

  24. I disagree. If the USA had wanted to keep the USSR "out" why had FDR and his advisers so strenously insisted on the necessity of Soviet support against Japan?

  25. Again the TRUE villian is FDR. The policies he pursued against Japan – which for him were very personal in nature – made both WAR and the bombing inevitable. War with Japan could have been easily avoided.

  26. Two words – global domination.
    Nothing more and nothing less. A message to the world "this is what we can and will do, so do as you are told".

  27. A few technical points,
    Questions of policy aside, there were technical reasons for the parallel development of the two weapons. THe first system "Little Boy" was a so-called 'gun-type" system where two slugs of U-235 were slammed together to form a critical mass. The advantage of this design was the high degree of certitude that it would work (keep in mind that it was not even tested before being dropped on Hiroshima), the technical drawback was that production of weapons-grade U-235 at the Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant was so slow, that we did not have another uranium bomb after little boy, and could not for several months, with a lead time of several months between each bomb. The day after the Hiroshima blast, Japanese physicists correctly ascertained that it was both a uranium device, and that the US did not have another (and we did not!)
    The "Fat Man" dropped on Nagasaki was a plutonium device using the spherical implosion method, problem was, it was much more complicated than Little Boy, and even after a successful test, it was still such a jury-rigged mechanism that it was by no means certain that it would work under non-laboratory conditions. OTOH, because it used plutonium, such devices could be manufactured in industrial volumes. Indeed, after Nagasaki, the Japanese scientists assessed the device to have used plutonium, and warned the Japanese government that many more such devices could be on the way.

  28. How very true? Because we all know that the only evil ever existed in the guise of Nazi, and since their dispatch to hell, no evil has been around on Earth.

    This certain knowledge is results of our very strong values, that is guiding our way of life, and unshakable belief in; Santa Clause, Tooth Friaries, and all manner of Hobgoblins, not forgetting the Pixies.

    Hiroshima, and Nagasaki are but only two pit-stops for the uniformed lunatics, and their guiding fascio in the long line of the wars US has waged on the Planet to be precise one hundred and eighty seven of these wars. These former examples are famous for number of gooks/congs/ragheads/japs/sandniggers/et al (delete as appropriate and in line with the enemy of the moth) in one go!

    Oh Lord when these entranced hamburger munchers will awake and smell the coffee?

  29. Bob is right on track with this post. Americans are too dumb, or too misinformed to understand.

  30. Aarky, I love this argument that "we had to incinerate 100s of thousands in seconds, otherwise it would cost too much to invade and take over Japan's gunverment and turn Japan into a giant unsinkable aircraft carrier from which to rule over our newly expanded Pacific Empire."

    This argument succinctly demonstrates the depths of depravity that is typical of most U.S. of Americans. The idea that the U.S. military had no business invading Japan and taking hands on control of the Japanese gunvermental machine is completely beyond most U.S. of Americans comprehension.

  31. Timbot2000, interesting speculation. Do you have anything to back it up?

    Remember, FatMan was dropped on Nagasaki only three days after Hiroshima was nuked, hardly enough time for even the sharpest scientists to know what this strange and terrible new weapon was, let alone how it worked or how it was made.

    This sounds to me like another attempt at excusing inexcusable U.S. Government behavior. By this time, Curtis LeMay and his command had already incinerated something like 60 Japanese cities with firebombs. One nuke wasn’t even necessary, let alone two of them — Japan was already frantically seeking a behind the scenes surrender.

    But don’t take my word for it, listen to Vietnam era Defense Secrtary Robert McNamara, who was on LeMay’s staff at the time. HERE:

    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/reichard.php?articleid=6684#VClip_6

  32. I reckon this started the whole destroy a city to save it mentality that exists today. But now it's a little different. USA destroys a city to POLL it. I reckon Czarzai will win in a 'landslide' with 1% of all precincts reporting!

  33. Well, you're right about one thing: All those wars are "our" wars. As citizens of a democracy, we've given our implicit OK to each and every one. But the nation is a uniquely evil Leviathan waging war on the "Planet"? What a laughably simplistic worldview. What soybeans are you munching?

  34. again we see(music)scientist causing big trouble",(un-quote),especially when the confliction of political interest rears it's dragons' head,and don't forget the Imperial empire was over in east of Indonesia consolidating the claw on all those loose "barrels of oil,just as then so is it still now,the other empire in the other side of the asian west still seeks that old silk road,a pipeline and a barrell of horsepower and some mechanical "dragon juice,the more things change the more they appear to stay the same,securing Ameri_a's energy future and the cause for in the name of transportation and alpha mobile energy domanation,fission,fusion,hydrogen hydro-electric electroylisis,not a stream availed or an even flow just a political exsplosion, weapon ,or bomb.And a super power evil was born after all & still is a cause of concern since nothing really changed except the hand of ownership switched arms,and the worldly realms that have the monster appitite want what somebody else has, under their feet or polar ice cap

  35. Dropping a bomb on an isolated island would have done nothing.

    We dropped the bomb on their CITY, and yet the refused to surrender after seeing the horror – they wanted to keep fighting, not beliviing we had another bomb and could do it again. Even after the second bomb, they wanted to overthorwn the Emporer – their "God on Earth" and continue fighting. But the Emporer knew better and did the right thing.

  36. Having visited guam and saipan, and seen the sucidie cliffs that the japanese would throw themselves of to evade capture by the americans, I doubt they would have ever surrendered unless by a show of overwelming force.

    And let us not forget that the Germans and the Japanese were trying to build the bomb as well – I doubt the would held back on it's usage.

  37. bjgger, I think you’ve been listening to the standard U.S. Government propaganda trying to excuse it’s psychopathic behaviors.

    I’m truly sorry to say that President Eisenhower and Robert McNamara know better.HERE: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/reichard.php?articleid=6684#VClip_6

    Governments are machines – – – like a hockey team with a few folks in the penalty box, they keep right on ticking. And like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “we the people” regularly lose control of them.

    McNamara knew. HERE: http://www.youtube.com/v/P0XcAefqyb0

  38. San Fernando Curt, I’m alergic to soy beans. And unfortunately, the answer to your comment, “But the nation is a uniquely evil Leviathan waging war on the “Planet”? ” is disgustingly close to “Yes.”

    As of 1988, as “Cosmos” originator and astronomer Carl Sagan wrote, based on the Congressional Record, “Excluding World Wars and expeditions to suppress piracy or the slave trade, the United States has launched armed invasions and interventions in other countries on more that 130 separate occasions.”

    That record has, unfortunately, been “improved” since Sagan wrote in 1988 – – –

    For a more comprehensive list of U.S. Government interventions, see “TERRORISM: A CENTURY OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS” HERE: http://web.archive.org/web/20040217042706/http://www.kominf.pp.fi/4extra.html

    Currently the U.S. Government has troops stationed in 135 of the world’s ~194 countries and an FBI presence in 60 of them.

  39. Thank you for posting this additional piece of information to pull back the curtain on the viciousness of our government. The willingness of commentators such as Andy and Aarchy to repeat the disinformation unleashed by statists about the vast numbers who would have supposedly died without the mass-murder of the bomb is fascinating. Those nuclear explosions yielded approximately 200,000 innocent civilian victims. Their real purpose was to “send a message” to America’s World War II ally, the Soviet Union, informing its leaders that the United States indeed possessed a formidable weapon. President Truman, however, misled Americans by claiming that the nuclear weapons were used to prompt a faster surrender and save the lives of 500,000 American soldiers (the correct figure, supplied by the military, was actually 46,000 soldiers). Americans were not told that the Japanese leadership already had sued for peace before the bombings — seeking virtually the same terms that were obtained after the bombings. Using Truman’s falsehood as its touchstone, U.S. politicians claimed that the napalm and Agent Orange used in Vietnam, the sanctions against Iraq, and Operation Iraqi Freedom itself were designed to topple the leaders of evil regimes. These tactics, however, have failed. Nothing was gained, and only the bodies are left to count. Here's additional information from an old article about the Machiavellian streak in politicians regarding war:
    http://www.fff.org/comment/com0508m.pdf

  40. US Govt. dropped nuclear bombs on Japan for 3 reasons (in any order): a) revenge b) to prevent Soviet Army from taking control of Japan c) to demonstrate to Stalin the power of the bomb d) to show to the world that US will use the bomb if any need will be

    a) NOT a good reason at all

    b) valid reason, although it does not follow at all that USSR would be willing to retain control of Japan after the war end

    c) not a good way to demo the bomb for US

    d) in combination with c) ensured that Stalin and all soviet people, secret services, scientists, engineers and factory workers did not hesitate to do their absolute best to develop nuclear weapon for USSR.

    As well as superior ICBM development, which was demonstrated by lunch of the Sputnik, not by something as brutal as nuclear bombing of Japan.

    On top of that c) and d) also probably gave additional justification for people in the US nuclear project to funnel the information on the bomb to the USSR.

    So – all in all that bombing does not seem like a smart or beneficial move at all, apart from any moral judgment.

  41. I’m sure you’ll agree, Vassili, that one should not blow up a city in one country to “prove” something to somebody in another country! Ay, what next?

  42. Just to correct one small thing. ; )
    Japanese NAVY was against to go into the war with Americans to begin with.
    It's the ARMY who pushed the plan to attack Pearl Harvour. So I wouldn't call Japanese NAVY an imperial. ARMY is indeed.

    NAVY knew exactly Japan had no resource to fight with the Americans.
    GDP at the time of Pearl Harvour was 1:10 (Japan: U.S.)
    By the end of the war the gap grew to about 1:20 (Japan : U.S.)

    Both sides, Japan and U.S., knew exactly Japan will lose if we (I am Japanese) didn't finish up Americans in one year from Pearl Harvour. U.S. knew exactly Japan had no resource, man, fuel, foods etc etc.. by the end of the war except those imperialist both in Japan and U.S. side they wanted to continue the war for their own interests.

    My personal opinion, Hiroshima was bombed because of the imperialists regardless of their nationality Japanese or Americans.

  43. Of course it could have been avoided but that clearly wasn't the aim of Roosevelt. An altogether supreme example of the pol so crooked you'd have to screw him into the ground to bury him. Ever notice that the rat bastards responsible for bringing these incidents to the fore never leave their personal bunker and lead the assault on far distant islands? Nope… As I've said time and again that if it isn't important enough for them to personally die for then you have no obligation to go in their place.

  44. Good lord man! A quarter million dead civilians, not including those incinerated from fire bombings, to avenge attacks on military outposts of the American Empire? I used to swallow the swill passed out as "history" up until the point I woke up from this nightmare. First of all lets make it clear that nobody HAS to put on a uniform or pick up a gun and kill someone. You may get sent to prison but the fact remains that unless you consent to being used, abused or even killed by your overlords you need not obey them. Same goes for the after-the-fact scientists and those responsible for even building such a damnable device. So,, all the ignorant lemming GI's (and I'm speaking as a former military man myself) would have lived even without the bomb had our cowardly and hypocritical government simply accepted the surrender overtures from the Japanese. I won't excuse them of what they did in China or Korea etc… but that wasn't any of our damn business. Playing global cop eventually catches up to you.

  45. Ever notice that the poor pitiful CIA gets painted (on purpose no less) as some sort of misunderstood and abused spouse in a dysfunctional marriage to our "Uncle" when the fact is it is a consummate liar, thief and killer. It knows plenty but plays the role of Gomer Pyle to the easily enamored and sympathetic Boobus-Americanus.

  46. i guest you dont know how to speak stupid ok well if you dont know dont talk chao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Geesh! Give war a chance!

  48. Think about control, the Soviets maintained control over Eastern Europe, Germany for how long after WW2 and you post whether they would maintian control over Japan given the precedent of their siezure of the Kurile Islands of Japan they still hold to this day…

  49. Because the Japanese were already negotiating for a possible separate peace with the USSR. FDR was worried the Soviets were about to break ranks.