What If The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Bombs Played Little Role In Ending World War II?

This article seems to me to be a cogent defeater of the last (yet still morally pathetic) argument in favour of the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

From our perspective, Hiroshima seems singular, extraordinary. But if you put yourself in the shoes of Japan’s leaders in the three weeks leading up to the attack on Hiroshima, the picture is considerably different. If you were one of the key members of Japan’s government in late July and early August, your experience of city bombing would have been something like this: On the morning of July 17, you would have been greeted by reports that during the night four cities had been attacked: Oita, Hiratsuka, Numazu, and Kuwana. Of these, Oita and Hiratsuka were more than 50 percent destroyed. Kuwana was more than 75 percent destroyed and Numazu was hit even more severely, with something like 90 percent of the city burned to the ground.

Three days later you have woken to find that three more cities had been attacked. Fukui was more than 80 percent destroyed. A week later and three more cities have been attacked during the night. Two days later and six more cities were attacked in one night, including Ichinomiya, which was 75 percent destroyed. On August 2, you would have arrived at the office to reports that four more cities have been attacked. And the reports would have included the information that Toyama (roughly the size of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1945), had been 99.5 percent destroyed. Virtually the entire city had been leveled. Four days later and four more cities have been attacked. On August 6, only one city, Hiroshima, was attacked but reports say that the damage was great and a new type bomb was used. How much would this one new attack have stood out against the background of city destruction that had been going on for weeks?

As good a time as any to listen to Ireland’s greatest contemporary folk prophet sing of “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Russian Roulette”.

Your Correspondent, They call it security, he calls it suicide.

2 Replies to “What If The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Bombs Played Little Role In Ending World War II?”

  1. An interesting article (so interesting, I put up with reading it three lines at a time from behind an obnoxious login prompt).

    I reject the claim that nuclear weapons were solely responsible for ending the war, though I have a few comments.

    The first issue is not really a criticism. It’s just an observance. The article seems to be arguing against the bombing of Hiroshima by claiming it wasn’t as bad as everyone imagines. This raises the question of why there is much debate over the bombing of Hiroshima, but comparatively less over WWII bombing campaigns in general. A stark reminder of the destruction caused by the war is the fact that, in terms of civilian deaths and casualties, Hiroshima was quite unremarkable.

    The only real criticism I would have is that the author misrepresents the significance of the bombings. What made the nuclear bombs distinct was not their absolute destruction. Instead, it was their efficiency. A city could be eviscerated with a single bomb, ultimately changing the paradigms of war. To quote part of Hirohito’s capitulation announcement:

    “Moreover, the enemy now possesses a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.”

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