J. KARL MILLER: U.S. nuclear arms are an unfortunate but necessary deterrent

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:19 a.m. CDT, Saturday, August 27, 2011

I read Bill Wickersham and Scott Jones' guest commentary on nuclear disarmament with more than a passing interest, generated from my service as a career military officer and a minor-league historian.

That this is a controversial subject — fanning fierce debate from the center, as well as from both ends of the spectrum — is understood.


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Every civilized or sane person agrees that war is by its very nature a detestable method for settling disputes between nations. Nuclear war is a gruesome adjunct of combat between nations that, hopefully, will prove unnecessary.

Delivering A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 forever changed the face of and ramped up the consequences of warfare.

Historically, I suspect the developments of the spear, crossbow, gunpowder, machine gun, tank and high-explosive bombs and missiles were condemned as barbaric amid calls for their banishment from the field of combat.  

Nevertheless, the tragedy of about 200,000 civilians and military killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, along with an estimate of 400,000 perishing from radiation in the following years, will never be erased from history.

I understand fully the positions of Wickersham and Jones in their commitment to the late Admiral Noel Gayler's call for total nuclear disarmament.  

Gayler — a highly respected naval aviator who flew combat missions in World War II — observed the destruction from flying over Hiroshima and retired as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, and dedicated much of his later life to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

I would expect also that most civilized and sane individuals prefer that nuclear weapons had remained on the drawing board — that nuclear power instead be developed for serving mankind in peaceful ventures.   

However, it must also be remembered that the immediate purpose of the atomic bomb was, ironically, to save lives by ending a costly and bloody world war.

Estimated casualties occurring from an attack on the Japanese mainland ranged from 500,000 to more than a million Americans killed, with an additional 2 million to 4 million Japanese soldiers and civilians slain.

Past and present-day ridicule of those casualty estimates as excessive, and the horror exacted from the atomic bombings notwithstanding, President Harry Truman’s courageous decision to proceed was both correct and justifiable.

Despite the voluminous writings of latecomers, armchair quarterbacks and the annual ban-the-bomb protesters, Japan's history of fierce defense in the Pacific augured unacceptable casualties and destruction.

Arguably, while the world would be better off without nuclear weapons, I must side with the contingent of senior military officers, geopolitical professionals and political realists. They reject nuclear disarmament as a well-intentioned but utterly unattainable goal.

An orchestrated destruction of strategic and tactical nuclear capability envisioned by Admiral Gayler and the authors of the guest commentary ignores the abject futility of returning the nuclear genii back into the bottle.

Five states  — the U.S., Russia, China, England and France — are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Three — India, Pakistan and North Korea — are nonsignatory members, and Israel is undeclared.

Iran is known to be pursuing nuclear-weapon capability. Possession of such weapons gives the owner significant military power. The prime question in their mutual disarmament and destruction comes down to one of “trust but verify.”

Verifying — finding what the subject state does not wish to be found — is problematic at best.  England, France and India can probably be trusted, while China and Russia are considered iffy.  

Pakistan is too unstable for an accurate assessment. North Korea and Iran are “rogue nations” led by certifiable nutcases who are ticking time bombs.

Inasmuch as the technology for producing nukes is now easily available, the possibility that materials might be provided to other rogue states renders nuclear disarmament too potentially calamitous to consider feasible.

Finally, in addressing David Krieger’s (the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation) outline of four common misconceptions about nuclear weapons, addressed earlier by Admiral Gayler, it is hard to argue that physical defense against them is possible.

However, concluding that they cannot be used in a sensible manner ignores their successful and sensible employment to end World War II.

The last two misconceptions — that nuclear disarmament imperils our security and nuclear deterrence is an effective defense — are at odds when balanced against fact and logic.  

First, the insatiable thirst for power, economic as well as tyrannical, coupled with the knowledge that the milk of human kindness does not flow through the veins of potential rulers and tin-pot dictators, makes verification of disarmament virtually impossible.

And, the notion that nuclear deterrence is not an effective defense has thus far been refuted. The last of the two atomic bombs delivered against Nagasaki fell on Aug. 9, 1945. Since then, we have seen 66 years free from nuclear attack.  

One must conclude that the stewardship of the U.S.,  the first and the most powerful and responsible nuclear nation, has been a deterrent to nuclear warfare.

The urge to rid the world of these weapons is commendable. However, our national defense is best served by remaining a nuclear power actively engaged in deterring their use.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at

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Ellis Smith August 24, 2011 | 10:39 a.m.

While mutually agreed upon - and subsequently verified - nuclear arms reductions are definitely worth considering, it would be suicidal to unilaterally scrap our arsenal.

As for the circumstances under which WW II in the Pacific ended, many of those now pontificating about those events weren't around when they actually occurred and have no first-hand knowledge of what public opinion was in the United States at that time.

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Don Milsop August 24, 2011 | 8:13 p.m.

Arguably too nuclear weapons have saved more lives than any other medical invention or other innovation in history. A third world war without nuclear weapons would likely have occurred, making the casualties of WW2 look tiny. Automobile accidents worldwide since 1945 have killed far more people than wars. Wars do make more dramatic media coverage though.

The problem today is that those nations holding nuclear weapons in the past were basically mentally sane and not driven to self-destruction. However, nukes in the hands of a real nut job such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have disastrous results. Ron Paul's statement that Iran doesn't even have an air force is nonsense. Just transship one in a cargo container into any major port in the US and we've got instant financial chaos and millions dead. A story on Jun 24, 2009 clearly shows the potential sieve that the Obama administration has implemented. While nuclear deterrence is important for possible major belligerents such as Russia, and China, having them in the hands of Pakistan, Iran, or N. Korea is not guarantee they will not give them to others, much less use them on their own.

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Don Milsop August 24, 2011 | 8:58 p.m.

At this point I would like to add a little bit of history regarding those two times we did actually use nuclear weapons during war. Few Americans are ever taught these things in high school or college.

Japan had moved virtually all of its war manufacturing into individual homes throughout Japan. This was verified by POW's who were used as slave labor during the war, and my occupation authorities who were amazed at the machinery being used for war production in homes everywhere on the Japanese homeland.

The death rate of Allied prisoners taken by Germany and Italy was less than one point two percent. The death rate amongst Allied prisoners taken by Japan was over thirty eight percent, and virtually 100% for Chinese prisoners taken by Japan. Further, there were WRITTEN orders that were to be carried out and were actually scheduled that all Allied prisoners were to be summarily executed by Japanese forces. A total of over 235,000 prisoners were saved from execution by 10 days with the surrender of Japan. Even after the Emperor announced the surrender, Japanese field forces still inquired if they were supposed to carry out the executions. Not including Chinese, Japan took 492,600 military and civilian casualties. Of those, over 257,000 died. As Japan withdrew from various posts throughout the Pacific and Asia, they took few POWs with them. Most were executed.

The basic truth is that the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima saved far more lives than were taken.

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Michael Williams August 24, 2011 | 9:17 p.m.

Don: Agreed.

And, as I've stated before, if you worry about collateral damage but your opponent doesn't, you lose.

Japan and Germany didn't worry about we didn't either.

Not nice to say or do, but "nice" has little to do with war. If you want to win.

Also...never forget...the winner gets to make the rules.

It's better to make the rules.

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Christopher Foote August 25, 2011 | 12:43 a.m.

The Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe did not think it was a sensible act:

" [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act.

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."

- Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, pg. 380

7 of the 8 five star generals (Army, Navy and Air Force) serving at the time of the bombing thought it wasn't a sensible act to drop the bomb:
Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy,
Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz,
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur,
General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower,
General of the Army Henry H. Arnold

The only five star general to defend the action was George C. Marshall, but he also said:"...that whether we should drop an atomic bomb on Japan was a matter for the President to decide, not the Chief of Staff since it was not a military question..."
I can't imagine 1 five star general, much less 7 of 8 opposing an action which would prevent significant casualties (500,000-1,000,000!!!?) to men under their command.

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Don Milsop August 25, 2011 | 1:02 a.m.

The 235,000 Allied prisoners who would have been executed on August 22, 1945 thought it quite sensible.

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Don Milsop August 25, 2011 | 1:05 a.m.

Mr. Foote, and on pg. 380 of GeneralEisenhower's Mandate For Change, what reference is given to back up this claim? The original source of such a claim?

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J Karl Miller August 25, 2011 | 10:19 a.m.

Whether 7 of the 8 Five Star Generals and Admirals believed it necessary to employ the Atomic Bomb(s) is not relevant. As for General MacArthur and perhaps others as well, his objection was not voiced until after the fact. The crux or essential point though is that authority may be delegated to subordinates but never responsibility. The decision was President Truman's responsibility, after weighing the pros and cons, he made it. The second guessing has not ceased but rather gained in stridency. The mantle of leadership weighs heavily--criticism is free of responsibility.

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Matt Wilkinson August 26, 2011 | 12:32 p.m.


You make a common mistake in referring to England as a state in the context of states governments controlling nuclear arms. there has not been a government of England since the act of union was signed in 1707. Governemnt of England is governemd by the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This ca Yes I now this is somewhat pedantic but Scots, Welsh and significant numbers of Northern Irish people really get upset when people refer to the UK as England.

Oh and I really like your comment "England, France and India can probably be trusted" ---- Residents of those countries may or may not feel the same way about the USA.

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frank christian August 26, 2011 | 3:40 p.m.

Matt Wilkinson - "Oh and I really like your comment "England, France and India can probably be trusted" ---- Residents of those countries may or may not feel the same way about the USA."

I would suggest the "residents of those countries" as well as those of the other Democratically governed nations of the world trust us. I am an American. I would suggest that the peoples of the other countries, governed by tyrants and despots, trust U.S. as well. It is their governments that cannot trust us (U.S.) or anyone else, as a matter of their survival.

Then, there are the people of the Democratic governed nations that somehow have decided that some other way is better. They profess hatred for the despots and at the same time attempt to dismantle the system that has allowed them the freedom, worldly goods, etc. they now have. They, in my opinion, are our worst enemy.

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Don Milsop August 26, 2011 | 3:58 p.m.

Matt, possibly you are not from the United States where we often refer to the UK as England. We are well aware that Scots and Welsh don't consider themselves as English. However, since Culloden, they have pretty much fought under the same banner. It's much like English and Europeans think of the United States as either New York City or cowboys.

However, when I boarded submarines at Holy Loch, nobody really much cared as we all worked and shared the burdens.
And I suspect that few citizens of the UK, France, or India ever worried about the United States starting WWIII. Since the end of WW2, has there ever been a time when the United States and the UK were not there for each other when our citizens went into harms way?

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mike mentor August 26, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

How timely this article is !!!

The Iranian president said on Friday there will be no room for Israel in the region after the formation of a Palestinian state, and that once the state is established, the liberation of all Palestinian lands should follow.

The comments by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reflected his typical anti-Israeli rhetoric, which has drawn international condemnation since he first said in 2005 that Israel should be "wiped off the map".

"Do not assume you will be boosted with a [UN] recognition of a Palestinian state," Ahmadinejad said, addressing Israel. "There is no room for you in the region."

"Recognition of a Palestinian state is the first step in the liberation of the entire Palestine," he added.

"You [the West] and the Zionist regime will have no base in the Middle East," he warned, and dismissed the West's support for a two-state solution as a tactic meant "to save" Israel.

He also called on rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to form as strong, unified state and not "consider it sufficient to have minor and weak governments in a small area".

Iran faces increased pressure from the West over its controversial nuclear programme that Israel, the United States and others contend is intended for nuclear weapons making.

"borrowed from AP..."

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Don Milsop August 26, 2011 | 5:14 p.m.

Matt Wilkinson August 26, 2011 | 12:32 p.m.
Oh and I really like your comment "England, France and India can probably be trusted" ---- Residents of those countries may or may not feel the same way about the USA.

These are likely the same silly people who think wealth and tax income are created by governments.

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Tim Trayle August 26, 2011 | 7:48 p.m.

If Don M. visits a lower-Glasgow pub, he might want to avoid starting in with his happy-family version of English/Scots history.
To our editorialist: "Second-guessing" is an insulting term if the editorialist means to apply it to the many many scholars who have sought to explore what remains a pivotal event in U.S. history, & a deeply-contested aspect of national memory. There's a lot of really fine, carefully-researched and responsibly-written work on the issue. One of the most probing explorations in recent years has been a chapter on Hiroshima in Micheal Bess's _Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II_ (Knopf, 2006). I'd really recommend it to folks on this thread who are interested in the issue. They'd see that professional historical scholarship can deeply examine these kinds of issues without being disrepectful to the people who faced them more immediately, without being anti-American (whatever that is), and without labeling continued questioning and examination as "second-guessing."

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frank christian August 26, 2011 | 9:14 p.m.

Tim Trayle - You are again becoming a "trial" in your posting. My wife is of Ayr, Scotland some few miles away from Glasgow. My conversations with so many of her friends and relatives have have left me with knowledge of this unaccountable hatred of all people "English". They are selfish, will not give a guest a full measure of tea in the offered cup. This is well known as an "English cup of tea". The English are the only people on earth, according to my salmon and trout fisher father-in-law, that would eat a pike.

Your "second guessing" historical scholars may acquaint us with other points of contention between those members of the UK. I'll wait.

You continue to report findings from your "carefully-researched and responsibly-written work" of folks whom, whether you can envision it or not, are "second guessing " everything they write about, to a group that was "there and have done that". I was an early teen when those bombs were dropped. My father in Navy at Okinawa and Iwo Jima was glad Harry T. did it. I was glad it was done, so that he might come home (which he did). Everyone then knew that the bombs were the best thing for the world, because of all the reasons that have been recited here and somehow must be recited over and over, primarily because of the "second guessing" of those among your anointed Authors. One wonders, how old must you be?

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Tim Trayle August 27, 2011 | 9:12 a.m.

By FC's reasoning, studies of the Am. Rev., the Civil War, the Turkish genocide agst. Armenians, the Russian Rev., etc., must now cease, as those who "were there" are now gone and only highly-suspect "second guessers" remain.
What a profoundly interesting attitude towards historical scholarship....I'm glad it's a rare one.

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frank christian August 27, 2011 | 10:59 a.m.

Tim T. - When the studies you note are an honest examination of facts surrounding the events they cover, they become recorded history. 2. The barbarization of warfare

In which the author somehow puts U.S. bombing of Tokyo in the fight to save our country and it's people from domination by a tyrannical Government, on the same moralistic level with the Japanese bombing of Chinese civilians while expanding it's empire. Imo, this is not an examination of history, but only another edition from the repetitious propaganda machine, I call the ABA, Always Blame America, crowd. Unfortunately, due to our freedom of speech law, this mischaracterization of our country and it's intent and purpose, rather than "rare" has become commonplace.

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frank christian August 27, 2011 | 12:16 p.m.

Tim T - I forgot your comment, "without being anti-American (whatever that is),"

Most of us know what being anti-American is (means). That you do not, adds nothing to your intellectual stature.

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Tim Trayle August 27, 2011 | 3:06 p.m.

To all: I imagine FC had already made up his mind about Bess's book before he Google'd it. If FC had not immediately put his defensive and ideological blinders on, he would have noted what Bess has to say in the very same (v brief) website section that seemingly outraged him: "Once again, we should not conclude from this — as Hermann Goering sought to argue at the Nuremberg trials — that because all sides committed atrocious acts, all hands were equally and indiscriminately stained."
You see how this works? FC accuses Bess of moral relativism (without FC having actually read the book--hee hee), when Bess explicitly notes that we cannot go down that route. (And in the book, he does not.)
That's perhaps a testament to the style of "argument" pursued so often on this board by the great FC.
Having said that, I do think FC would be surprised--in a good way--by the book. But that's a matter for him and his own intellectual curiosity. You can lead a horse to water...
Anyhow, I think it's getting time for me to put FC back in the "no response" box for a while. I don't know why--it's certainly not the sharpness of argument--but something about FC just drives me bananas...

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John Schultz August 27, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

Frank, I'm not sure any one person's idea of anti-American should be claimed as the consensus. I think the US going into Iraq and Libya is un-American, but I doubt you or Don or the colonel do.

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frank christian August 27, 2011 | 6:04 p.m.

Mr. Trayle - You have once again identified some false "implication" regarding what I have read and not read. I read Gores "defense" as well as a sentence you deemed not worthy of consideration. "No: each nation, each people, has to deal with its own measure of accountability for the moral transgressions it committed." The author tells us this, then proceeds to combine the actions as well as the blame, he deems horrific as tho one had no bearing on the cause or the reason for the other. He says he has focused again on the lack of action by those of the Christian Religion to prevent the atrocities that occurred. It seems, somehow, that liberals must always start any debate, not at the beginning but, at the point that is most beneficial to their agenda. Agenda - the primary reason for every book, speech,video, etc. in which the liberal may participate. These last are my thoughts, of course.

We will read Mr. Trayle again when a new "implication" is perceived by him.

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frank christian August 27, 2011 | 6:14 p.m.

Mr. Trayle so absorbed all my attention, I forgot the subject. Are the continued re-hash and revision of dropping of the "bombs" and the actions of the United States in WW2, "second guessing"? In my opinion, absolutely!

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Tim Trayle August 27, 2011 | 8:55 p.m.

Sigh...I can't help it, God save me. He's done it again.
To the forum as a whole. We have folks here who consider continued explorations of US WW2 bombing as unwarranted "second-guessing." Where does this leave us as a society? Who decides which areas of history need to be "closed-off" from further examination, and which can remain safely, uncontroversially, open?
Precisely *why* is an examination of what the Catholic Church hierarchy did and didn't do, as WW2 approached and began, off limits? It's a perfectly valid topic! (I'll note that Bess *also* explores cases where individual churches and congregations acted in what he depicts as absolutely morally--and physically--heroic ways.) But no, some people here see a reference to a questioning of church hierarchy, and it's like the proverbial red flag to the bull. Why is that?
It is not wrong, anti-American, "liberal," "revisionist," unpatriotic, [insert some other inane adjective], for historians to continue to examine major turning points in this nation's history. Bess set out to examine the morality of the actions of the major belligerents in WW2 (not *just* the US, but GB, USSR, Japan, and GER as well) and to come as close as he could to understanding them. It is very far from a "blame the U.S." book; and it's really offensive (and foolish) for FC to characterize it as such *without* having bloody *read* it.
To F.C.: Moral ambiguity is more difficult to shoulder than black-and-white moral certainty. But learning to accept moral ambiguity is part of becoming an adult. Your tendency to place seemingly every argument into some kind of liberal/conservative frame (i.e. your constant resort to terms like "agenda") is not a good sign in that regard, and it's not helpful for discussion on this board. As you know.
Now, back in the box with you. You can stir the pot and fantasize about all kinds of agendas, as you like, in there.

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frank christian August 28, 2011 | 11:23 a.m.

Wow! What passion (as well as repetition) from Mr. Trayle who represents the one poster unable to allow this editorialist the freedom of opinion and use of the term "second guess", when it rubs his decidedly leftist (there I go again) point of view the wrong way.

I reduce any debate to its base, the beginning. Mr Trayle's ambiguity allows him to avoid much unhelpful reasoning and apparently allows him to feel "grownup".

If this "box" would assure absence of prattle such as this, I might say lock the lid!

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mike mentor August 28, 2011 | 12:18 p.m.

I have no problem with further examination of historical events. That is how we grow as a civilization. However, I do have a problem when people form their opinions on war as if any people that are engaged in war live in some kind of vacuum and have a reasonable choice to not engage in war. We were not the imperialists in the war. We were not the ones engaging in genocide. We were certainly faced with a Sophies choice and I think we made the right one. You can't possibly "prove" we made the wrong one because there is no possible way to actually know what would have happened had we made different choices. Exploration and thorough examination is one thing, but judgment is something else all together. It is naive to think that you can work something out rationally with an irrational leader or Nation. It is naive to say that a victim of violence is morally more superior to one who uses violence as a last resort to defend themselves, their family, or their country, or other people that they don't even know, but who are faced with violence on their doorstep. It is naive to think that the feelings of moral superiority one feels as they judge others who actually had to make the choices are valid. It is downright pitiful to place judgment on people after the fact to provide yourself with those feelings of moral superiority.

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hank ottinger August 28, 2011 | 12:36 p.m.

A thoughtful post, Mr. Mentor. You bring a voice of sanity to the thread.

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Tony Robertson August 28, 2011 | 1:25 p.m.

A recent book by a Japanese scholar makes the claim that the USSR's late entry into the Pacific War had as much or more bearing on Japan's surrender as did the atomic attacks. There may be some truth to this. Japan had long feared the Soviets, and had actually fought some bloody battles against them in the summer of '39 on the Manchurian border.

That said, I do believe the atomic attacks were weighed by the Japanese leadership in their surrender decision. South Koreans and northern Japanese were spared the wrath of the Red Army as a result of the surrender, and perhaps as a result of the atomic bombs.

We talk about the fate of Allied POW's and the massive casualties expected from Operation Downfall. Something else to recall is, Japan still occupied large swaths of East Asia and the Western Pacific, with many millions of civilians still under their oppressive and hideous control. They, too, were spared further harm, that would have undoubtedly come from a lengthier war.

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Tim Trayle August 28, 2011 | 6:04 p.m.

I also agree with what Mike has written: the Truman admin. was faced with an awful choice, and in the end, made the best choice they could from a range of terrible options. Most historians agree. BUT, this relative consensus has only emerged after a decades-long, controversial (often v bitter) exchange among historians. We're the better for having allowed that exchange to take place. As nations go, we are often very responsible when it comes to open-eyed examinations of our past actions. But I think using the term "second-guessing" casts dispersion on the historians who have sought to come to grips with this episode. Overwhelming most are not "second guessing," but seeking to understand why, from a range of options, Truman took the path he did, and precisely *what* information that decision was based upon (and when did he have it), and a whole host of other factors that affected the decision. Trivializing that sort of examination with terms like "second-guessing" just isn't true to the nature of the work. Heck, most of the second-guessing comes from the "chattering class," the irresponsible media pundits we celebrate in this country.
One last comment (I can't help myself) to FC, as the lid slams shut: you write that I do not allow the editorialist to use the term "second-guessing." That's simply incorrect: editorialist has full freedom to write what he will, and I do not have the power of censorship. If I did, I wouldn't use it. In a marketplace of ideas, the editorialist can use any term he sees fit, but he *cannot* expect terms to go unchallenged when readers feel they are wrongly placed. Editorialist has full "freedom of opinion"--and we have full freedom of same to answer back. That's a purpose of these fora, and here I have to say (if you "reduce" this debate "to its base") I think you would agree. ["Click."]

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frank christian August 28, 2011 | 7:08 p.m.

While hoping not to diminish the voice of sanity recently brought to the thread, it seems necessary to remind Mr. Trayle that I noted that most Americans approved of the bombing, history can point that out tho most were just relieved to have the war over. "Everyone then knew that the bombs were the best thing for the world," and the "decades-long, controversial (often v bitter) exchange among historians." occurred mainly between those historians interested in truth and those trying to place blame (yes, on America). Mr Trayle's historians cannot be accused of "second guessing", however our ""chattering class," the irresponsible media pundits" are an easy target for him.

He does have a way with words. My comment, "Trayle who represents the one poster unable to allow this editorialist the freedom of opinion and use of the term "second guess", when it rubs his decidedly leftist (there I go again) point of view the wrong way.", suddenly becomes,"you write that I do not allow the editorialist to use the term "second-guessing." My statement suggests that other posters are able to allow use of the term, but you are unable to do so. It in no way implies that you have any authority for censorship. We may well do better together around here if you could reduce this "slippage" in your portrayal of facts in your posts. I forgot! I'm in the box, unable to address you.

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Don Milsop August 30, 2011 | 7:03 a.m.

Frank, my family lives in Motherwell now, but was primarily in Doonfoot and Kilmarnock. I've spent quite a bit of time at the Dick Institute. St. Quivox has all the old information.

Back to the subject at hand, it is not second-guessing that all 235,000 allied prisoners were to be executed on August 22, 1945. That is fact. Russia's entry into the war may well have had a bearing on it, since many of the Japanese camp commanders made statements such as 'now we can all be friends and fight the Russians together.' That being said, they would not have surrendered to either party had the bombs not been dropped, and 235,000 allied POWs would have been murdered. That is an inescapable fact. I haven't seen Tim address that yet.

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Don Milsop August 30, 2011 | 7:06 a.m.

Frank, I too am here because those bombs were dropped. My father was in training on Saipan to go in and dig up mines on the beaches the night before the invasion of Kyushu during Operation Olympic.

And my best friend in the world and former Marine buddy, also known to Col. Miller, is named William Wallace. You can't get much more Scottish than that.

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Tony Robertson August 30, 2011 | 12:38 p.m.

Don Milsop - your post reminded me of the story from Hampton Sides' book "Ghost Soldiers", of the execution (by dousing in gasoline, setting afire, and shooting those who fled) of several American/Filipino POWs on Palawan in late 1944. Events like this were the spark for the operations to liberate POWs and internees at Cabanatuan, Los Banos, Bilibid, and Santo Thomas. It is horrible to imagine such atrocities writ large across the remaining Japanese Empire, continuing on in 1945 and perhaps into 1946.

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tom kelly August 30, 2011 | 2:47 p.m.

Deterrent, yes, yes....

Any country could say the same to us.
If we were nuked fifty years ago, millions of innocents would have been saved.

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frank christian August 30, 2011 | 2:52 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Tim Trayle August 30, 2011 | 6:13 p.m.

Good lord. Don, will you *please* read every word I have written in this thread and tell me *where* I have written, suggested, or implied that the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasake was not the best of a range of terrible options??? That is what moral ambiguity is all about.
Just because FC snidely desires to paint me as a member of what he terms the "Blame America First" crowd (and yes, I am familiar with folks whom I'd place in that category too), does not mean that I am.
*All* I have done is suggest that interested folks look at a book I found particularly well-done, on an issue that is central to 20C U.S. history. It was FC who, because (but who knows?) I merely pointed to the book, got all hot under the collar. And once again, it is certainly *not* a book that "blames America first," nor disrespects the terrible decisions faced by our combatants in WW2.
I'm dropping this thread now. Your latest entry--asking me to "take up" an issue I am well aware of--shows me that it's time to do that. Bah.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 30, 2011 | 6:43 p.m.

tom kelly - My previous one word comment to you apparently would not work (technical difficulties, I'm sure).

Try this, you have identified the enemy, "it is us". Whom do you suppose would be the "innocents" saved. The communists of the USSR? Those performing the ethnic cleansing in Balkans? Castros of Cuba? Mullahs of Iran? Al Qaeda, Hussein and Gaddafi? Could you, if you are American, have a disconnect somewhere?

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 30, 2011 | 8:42 p.m.

Why it would be those corrupt evil dirty rotten filthy vile vulgar heinous nasty stupid scumbags who funded Al Queda during it's infancy and successfully installed Saddam Hussein as their puppet dictator. That's who.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire August 30, 2011 | 8:46 p.m.

And I think that they should this comment would be removed if I finished it.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson August 30, 2011 | 9:49 p.m.

tom kelly says: "If we were nuked fifty years ago, millions of innocents would have been saved."

Well, not millions of South Koreans. Or West Germans. Or probably Taiwanese, South Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Kuwaitis, Kurds, Bosnians, Kosovars, Afghans... But hey, facts, schmacts, right? We are no better than the hairy Iranian guy in the Kramer jacket, right?

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 31, 2011 | 7:24 a.m.

Don M. - It appears you and I may travel in different circles. I had not heard of the Dick Institute, but often lament having been that close to Kilmarnock and never visited the Johnny Walker distillery for a free sample.

(Report Comment)

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