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 Post subject: On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and....
PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:42 am 
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I'm posting this at the request of Shawn McElhinney.

On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications:
(Musings from the Webmaster of Rerum Novarum - I. Shawn McElhinney)

This thread was written in response to a private discussion where the work of a prominent Catholic commentator was brought to my attention. The fundamental issue here is one of the commentator in question making very facile arguments and presumptions on a subject with no small amount of complexities to it. And as they are a very influential person in Catholic circles, they have a responsibility for accuracy as well as not presenting their opinions as matters of doctrine or in a fashion that rules out opposing viewpoints.

Due to a desire to keep this focused on issues and not personalities, I will not directly quote the party in question. However, I will accurately represent their statements in a paraphrase format. As they have written similar stuff subsequent to the material I will interact with here, it bears noting that this was written only with their original commentary in mind -though it became apparent to me after it was written that I anticipated some of their subsequent comments and dealt with them in this thread as well. Nonetheless, the words of other contributors in the discussion will be in blue and indigo coloured fonts respectively.


In any event, making a moral evaluation of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki viz. Catholic teaching is extremely murky. It's certainly not the slam dunk "unjustifiable from a Catholic perspective that [certain prominent Catholic commentators] wants to portray it as.


Make a more involved argument, then. With all due respect, I don't think what you provided in that last letter even come[s] close to justifying it or overcoming the weight of the Catholic just war criteria. I think it is a slam dunk.

With all due respect XXXXX, I see this as about as much of a "slam dunk" in this situation as with George Tenet's view of WMD's being in Iraq.


One can never deliberately do evil in order to prevent further evil.

This is true. The question is, was the dropping of the bombs an evil act or simply a neutral act in and of itself during a time of war. During wartime, there are a lot of contingent factors that go into play that do not factor into the equation when there is a time of peace. The rest of this note will involve itself in sketching some of those factors out for consideration by the group. I may blog this later on with some minor adjustments (and refining if needed) but the assertions of this very prominent Catholic commentator (henceforth referred to as "The Commentator") need to be dealt with.

To start with, The Commentator's usage of "46,000 casualties" and the idea that this was a "worst-case scenario" are both blatantly erroneous. I will show you where the figure came from and why (when all contingent factors are taken into consideration) that figures approaching that level are not at all incongruent with probable situations whereas the numbers of The Commentator are. But first XXXXX's main principle needs to be touched on briefly so that is what will be done.


One must always use just means.


It is controvertible if once a war has been decided upon using just war criteria if every subsequent action requires the exact same kind of scrutiny. This after all goes into the subject of application of just war theory which everyone on this thread agrees can have varying applications and from which people of good will can disagree on. Having noted that briefly, let us consider the alternatives to the bombs being dropped to better consider some basic points of fact about the chosen targets themselves.

---Hiroshima was one of four proposed targets along with Nagasaki and two others (Kokura{1} and Niigata).

---Hiroshima was a military complex nerve center of sorts where carriers for the Japanese navy were built along with other munitions.

---Nagasaki was also a military center where they built aircraft and torpedoes.

---The estimates floated about American casualties for a land invasion of Japan were between 200,000 and a million. That does not concern the probable Japanese casualties which were with all probability have been about twice that if not more. If we figure that roughly one third of casualties are deaths, that would mean 65,000-330,000 American deaths and (roughly an additional 195,000-650,000 American casualties).

If we consider twice that number representing other casualties, that would mean 135,000 to 1 million casualties for the Americans and close to 2 million casualties for the Japanese. The Commentator's "46,000" number amongst the American troops is so pathetically misused that it cannot go without comment because of their status and influence in the Catholic community in general is of no small magnitude. Let us therefore consider what The Commentator did not in their posting that "46,000" figure and how badly misrepresented it was of what would happen in a real life situation.

To start with, I remind you all that there were over 7,000 American battle deaths in Iwo Jima (21,000 Japanese deaths) and 12,000 American battle deaths at Okinawa (Japanese killed or captured was around 100,000: that excludes suicides by Japanese soldiers to avoid capture). The decision to use the bomb (and forego an invasion) was made after Okinawa because of the concern that invading Japan may well involve a whole slew of Okinawas. Prior to that point, several scenarios were run by the Joint War Plans Committee with battle deaths ranging from 21,000-46,000 with casualties of 105,000-170,000. This is where The Commentator probably got their 46,000 figure but they misapplied it as casualties instead of deaths. That is not the only misrepresentation on their part in their recent communique.

I remind you all that those figures were presented in June of 1945 and were based on running various scenarios as well as estimations of Japanese troop levels being at six combat divisions, two depot divisions, 350,000 men total (numbers first proposed in 1944), and other elements. Furthermore, they were offered as an "educated guess": hardly the definitive statements that The Commentator leads their readers to believe that they were.

Also of no small importance, The Commentator does not tell their readers that the figure they posited were death figures (not casualty figures) and were based on various scenarios as well as the aforementioned estimates of troop strengths. I will not explain why failure to do this on their part paints a very deceptive picture both of the actual military situation at the time as well as misrepresenting from a moral and ethical standpoint the use of the two bombs in August of 1945.

It bears noting first of all that the casualty numbers mentioned above were later deleted in subsequent drafts of the scenarios for many reasons. The main reason seems to be that in presenting the numbers to President Truman, it was decided that a better estimate would be to tally the deaths on both sides from the campaigns of Leyte, Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, as well as account for the deaths from MacArthur's island-hopping campaign thus far. (The casualties for the campaigns will be noted further down on this thread.) Considered along with those figures would be the casualty rates of the only invasion similar in scope to what was being proposed with Japan and what happened there.

In other words, it would be important to take into consideration the Normandy invasion of Europe which was the only invasion in history to in any way approximate what we would be doing in landing on Japan. The Normandy invasion saw 42,000 casualties in the first thirty days from among the US forces. These additional considerations were viewed as more of a reasonable estimate of troop strength and probable deaths and casualties of Americans from an invasion of mainland Japan. And though they too would be woefully undervalued, before I get to pointing that out, there were additional factors taken into account too.{2}

To assist in the calculations, it was also asked of General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz to give estimates for casualties for the first thirty days and then for the first ninety days of the proposed campaign. MacArthur estimated nearly 51,000 casualties the first thirty days and Nimitz estimated 49,000 with the three month totals from both of them being close to what the Joint War Plans Committee estimated for ninety days out. These were estimates for an invasion at Kyushu and then moving onto Tokyo. However, these estimates were based on some faulty presumptions and that cannot be underscored enough.

For the estimates of MacArthur and Nimitz were estimates which (like the numbers The Commentator misquoted) were based on an assessment of six divisions and two depot divisions with a total military personnel of 350,000. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that those who first made these assessments did say as early as 1944 that an additional four divisions could be brought in. However, that was viewed as the limit due to geographical considerations. How wrong those who put together these figures were (figures from which The Commentator got their misquoted statistics) will now be disclosed by what happened after they set out that report to President Truman.

Within two weeks of the paper being presented, it was discovered that there were four additional divisions which the planners did not anticipate. Not only that but the planners did not know how those four divisions actually got to Kyushu or if they were already there and intelligence somehow missed them. Essentially, they had underestimated Japanese troop strength by at least 65,000 right off the bat!!! But it gets worse still.

For there was also an eleventh division being moved in from Honshu. So if we add to the mix 16,000 more troops, the level of manpower was underestimated by those who put out the report in June by at least 81,000 -and that does not count two more divisions which were discovered to be en route to Kyushu. Add them to the mix and we have thirteen divisions and 113,000 more Japanese troops than were accounted for in the June projections The Commentator cited as the so-called "worst case scenario"!!! If you think this is starting to look comparable to DS's repeatedly disingenuous misuse of Iraq civilian casualties statistics{3} you would be right except (unlike with DS) I have no reason to believe that The Commentator did this deliberately.

Now then, all this was happening and we were still two weeks or more before August 2nd. The latter date is significant because Truman did not want anything happening announcement-wise until after August 2nd.{4} It was also discovered in the intelligence a number of smaller mixed divisions which were not accounted for either. So rather than the 350,000 troop level which they estimated in the report that The Commentator cited, there were actually 534,000 troops excluding the twelfth and thirteenth divisions being moved in as well as the mixed divisions which they discovered. So add at least 40,000 to the number given above and troop strength at Kyushu would be at 574,000 or 224,000 higher than the original estimates.

If we count roughly 11,000 more army and air ground troops which were stationed at Ryukyus (the outskirts of Kyushu), that brings the total to 585,000 or roughly 40% more troop strength than the original figures estimated.{5} And with the original invasion date being set in early 1945 at November 1st, you can imagine I am sure that if the Japanese could practically double their troop strength at Kyushu in two months' time, what they would do with two additional months on top of that.


Cont'd below.


Last edited by Signum Crucis on Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:43 am 
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Furthermore, when you consider the additional special forces involved in the equation as well as the seven additional divisions, a doubling of the 46,000 deaths and 170,000 casualties figures (what The Commentator had in mind) would not cut the mustard since special forces have significantly better training than regular military personnel in all parameters. But even if we did assume parity with regular military personnel and assumed only a doubling of numbers, the totals would still be 92,000 dead and 340,000 casualties on the American side. And though that is still a serious underestimation for various reasons, let us use those underestimates as a base number. Furthermore, to round down, let us consider the Japanese ratio of deaths and casualties at roughly one third of casualties being deaths and using actual battlefield ratios from previous battles to get a conservative accurate assessment of what we could expect under different scenarios (all numbers rounded down):

---At Leyte, the casualty was 4.6:1 in favour of the Americans (17,000 vs. 78,000)

---At Luzon, the ratio was 5:1 in favour of the Americans (31,000 vs. 156,000)

---At Iwo Jima, it was 1.25:1 in favour of the Americans. (20,000 vs. 25,000)

---At Okinawa, it was 2.5:1 in favour of the Americans (46,000 vs. 119,000)

If we use the bare minimum ratio of 92,000 deaths and 340,000 casualties I mentioned earlier for the Americans, (which is a shade under 28% death rate among casualties: I am thus underestimating things here by an additional 5%), the death and overall casualty results from an invasion (amongst the Japanese) would have been akin to as follows:

---Leyte scenario applied to the proposed mainland invasion: over 414,000 deaths and 1,153,000 casualties

---Luzon scenario applied to the proposed mainland invasion: 460,000 deaths and 1,700,000 casualties

---Iwo Jima scenario applied to the proposed mainland invasion: 110,500 deaths and 408,000 casualties

---Okinawa scenario applied to the proposed mainland invasion: 184,000 deaths and 680,000 casualties.

Those ratios reflect only military deaths and casualties mind you not a combination of military and civilian.{6} We can throw out the Iwo Jima scenario right off the bat because basically that was an eight square mile island where the enemy was well entrenched and we had to go in and get them out in a fashion that made us sitting ducks. There is no way that the Japanese invasion would have the enemy that well concealed; ergo the close ratio would not happen.

I would say that a best case scenario would be approximately a 2:1 ratio favouring the Americans. Certainly President Truman was concerned that what happened at Okinawa --a 2.5:1 American advantage in casualties-- may well be replicated in a land invasion. So with that in mind, let us consider things from a 2:1 ratio for the sake of being more conservative with our numbers. If we do that, we would see at least 184,000 Japanese deaths and 680,000 total Japanese casualties. However, for reasons I will now go into, the figure would not possibly be this low since what I just noted is military personnel only and does not consider civilian deaths and other casualties so keep that in mind please.

If you consider that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined killed about 110,000 people (70,000 Hiroshima, 40,000 Nagasaki) and if we double those figures to represent people who died within five years of the bombings from radiation and other maladies, that would be roughly 220,000 people. However, for various reasons, there is no way that an invasion would have less deaths than what happened with the two bombs being dropped.{7}

If we compare the death and casualty figures from the atomic bombings to the projected deaths and casualties from an invasion in light of what I noted in this thread, you should see that the bombings saved approximately 430,000 Japanese lives (and about a million and a half additional Japanese casualties) along with 65,000 to 350,000 American lives (and roughly an additional 650,000 American casualties).

Frankly, I do not see this as the "slam dunk" some of you seem to think it is XXXXX. If anything, statistically, we did the right thing not only for our own safety and troop preservation but in the preservation of Japanese lives overall as well. Having noted those things, I want to touch briefly on additional parts of The Commentator's statement here.

The Commentator actually compares the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the fire bombings of Dresden and other German cities before claiming that they "cannot be squared with Catholic moral principles." This is quite a sweeping and dogmatic statement to say the least!!! And The Commentator claims this because (they assert) "the bombings deliberately targeted non-combatants." Expletives excape me to express with the appropriate colour this kind of "reasoning" so I will stick to the facts instead.

To start with, President Truman decided to use the bomb on specifically military targets and did not intend to target civilians. He even noted this in his diary on July 25, 1945. And while certainly there is no denial that there were civilian deaths and casualties in the bomb being dropped; nonetheless they were a derivative result of destroying the military target not the primary purpose of bombing the military targets themselves. This is the reason Truman did not drop the bombs on Tokyo or Kyoto (the new and old capitals of Japan) which were not military targets but instead were heavily civilian-populated cities.

To have dropped the atomic bombs on Tokyo and Kyoto at that point of the conflict would have been something indefensible in my view as those were not military targets.However, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets as a result of the voluminous output of military equipment and munitions that was done in those cities.{8} To neutralize or destroy a military target during wartime{9} with the intention of sparing the lives of your own military personnel can be considered if not a morally good act than at the very least a morally indifferent one in and of itself. (I would argue for it as a morally indifferent one.) From there I think my position in light of everything else noted in this thread is evident. And this raises another important subject to consider.

I have been critical of The Commentator's organization for a long time because of a pattern they have in approaching some of the more complex subjects in an overly simplistic fashion.{10} This is one of those issues and is not one that merely deals with how to approach certain subjects from an evangelical and apologetical standpoint. Instead, this is an issue that involves complex moral and ethical principles such as that of double-effect.{11} And if The Commentator cannot recognize the principle of double effect in moral and ethical subjects being so evidently in play here when you consider all of the prevalent factors, then that does not speak well of a person with their intelligence and abilities. They are not only a very intelligent person but they are in a position of prominence amongst Catholics influence-wise and have been for many years. Therefore, they have a greater responsibility for accuracy on these matters than any of us do --though we should all strive for as great an accuracy ourselves as possible of course.

Now lest what I noted above be misunderstood, I am certainly not saying that The Commentator does not have a right to view the atomic bombs being dropped as a wrong policy to follow. They certainly have that right even if (as I have demonstrated by showing the wider context of the numbers they cite as justification for their position) this kind of argumentation fails to sustain itself in the manner which they framed it. However, that does not mean that one of you could not posit the argument in a better fashion than they did. Either way though, there was no "slam dunk" on this issue however the mustard is cut. Hopefully what I noted here will be of assistance in helping this be realized by those reading this thread.

The Commentator has also claimed that essentially we are not exonerated from the moral law because of the evil done by our enemies. Of course I did not claim that it did. Nor was the use of the bombs in and of themselves involve a violation of the moral law for reasons I have already discussed. Again, The Commentator is being way too simplistic in their portrayals.

From there, The Commentator argues that the evils of our enemies did not give us justification for evils of our own -noting at that point that "being a Christian" is difficult in peacetime and evenmore difficult (and necessary) during wartime. I find this kind of assertion problematical because of the presumptions that The Commentator makes in asserting it.

Essentially (according to The Commentator) it would appear that to disagree with them on this matter is to not approach the matter in question as a Christian. That would seem to be their inference. Hopefully they can clarify this point later on to remove any controversion on this matter in light of what I am noting in this very thread.

I am left wondering if in The Commentator's eyes it would have been less evil to deliberately choose the path of greater carnage (as would have been the case with an invasion of mainland Japan) or that of lessor carnage? As I have explained in this thread, the path chosen was the path of least overall death and destruction. In wartime, there will always be death and destruction. The question is, did the Truman Administration choose the path of least overall death or not??? I would argue (and have) that they did.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:46 am 
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I can understand "unintended consequences" and so forth, but when you are deliberately dropping a bomb like these were, you know what is gonna happen, and many thousands of women and children who had nothing directly to do with the Japanese war effort were slaughtered. This is immoral and unjustifiable. Period. I think it is even in natural law, before you even get to Catholic moral theology, developed over 20 centuries.

Again, there is the principle of double effect here XXXXX. It may appear difficult under the context of the subjects in question to do so but the moral-ethical principle of double effect is a foundational one in Catholic moral and ethical considerations.{12} For that reason, we would do well to take it into the matrix of factors we use when evaluating this or any other morally and ethically complex issue. For when we get to the bottom line, simplistic caricatures do not do anyone proper justice -of that I am sure we can all agree. Hopefully what has been provided in this thread can give you and others some valuable food for thought on these issues.

Notes:

{1} Kokura was the first choice but the Secretary of War vetoed the idea. President Truman chose Hiroshima instead.

{2} As far as the "island-hopping" campaign of General MacArthur, from March 1944-May 1945, almost 14,000 US troops had been killed vs. over 310,000 Japanese troops: a ratio of 22:1!!! However, it would be the heighth of delusional fantasy to imagine that a similar scenario would take place with an invasion of the Japanese mainland: for reasons outlined in the rest of this thread.

{3} A subject that is interesting in its own right but would be best dealt with (if at all) at another time.

{4} President Truman was returning from the Potsdam Conference by ship on that date: a few days earlier, he set that as the earliest date for possibly using the bomb. The intelligence reports from August 2, 1945 were also significant in the decision to use the bombs along with additional factors too numerous to go over in this thread.

{5} Post war figures pointed to 14 divisions. Essentially, at the time that the US intelligence had estimated Japanese troop strength at 600,000 it was actually at 900,000: a 50% underestimation this time. And people complain about the Bush Administration's intelligence blunders as if such blunders are somehow a new thing...

{6} There were 10,000 military aircraft targeted for Kamikaze missions against the US military along with roughly a quarter million or more soldiers in Hiroshima alone. Also, Hiroshima was not on Kyushu but instead was on Chukoyu one island up. So after an invasion at Kyushu, there would be fighting there and also with a quarter million more troops in Hiroshima which could either have remained there or moved east to Shikoku. Either way, there would have been no avoiding them since (unlike Europe) a blitzkreig tank attack strategy would not work and without such a lightening fast approach, the Japanese troops at Hiroshima would have been able to engage the enemy and also have knowledge of the terrain to their advantage too. But that is not all.

Since moving to Shikoku would have involved two island jumps instead of one as in going to Hiroshima (see this map for a visual guide), it is most probable that they would have gone through Hiroshima where the quarter million additional military troops were already stationed. Furthermore, there was approximately three million civilians who were instructed in taking a "last stand" against the possible invaders. This was not accounted for in the original numbers cited by The Commentator: the idea that the civilians would place themselves in the position of being considered military personnel by trying to kill invading American troops. Stop to consider that for a moment.

Imagine if you will a child with sharp objects (or civilian men and women) trying to use said objects as weapons on invading soldiers. And from there, I am sure you can imagine that such a tactic would not go on too long before the soldiers had to start shooting civilians simply to insure their own safety. After all, you cannot have people stabbing you in the back with sharp objects when you are at battle and at that point, civilians blur the lines between civilian and military personnel. And at that point, the "self-defense" approach would kick in and I guarantee you the deaths and casualties would probably double over any projections from a purely military standpoint.

Remember, with a quarter million troops in Hiroshima being engaged after the massive troop levels at Kyushu -and presuming we actually pushed north from there of course- and three million civilians instructed as noted above- the American forces would be outnumbered significantly. Hence, when I say 650,000 deaths (and one and a half million additional casualties if not more) amongst the Japanese populace, consider everything I noted in this note and you will recognize I am sure that these are not inaccurate estimates.

{7} See footnote six.

{8} I already noted that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military centers of wartime Japan where carriers, aircrafts, torpedoes, and other munitions were built; ergo they can be properly considered military targets.

{9} See footnote eight.

{10} [A few of the readers] probably remember me doing this as far back as 1999 and 2000 in other media forums.

{11} On the Double Effect Principle in Ethical Argumentation (circa December 30, 2004)

{12} See footnote eleven.

:: I. Shawn McElhinney 1:48 PM [+] ::


Last edited by Signum Crucis on Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Some Feedback
PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:48 am 
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This is one of the pieces of email feedback I received on the previous Hiroshima thread from a good friend of mine (Dr. Art Sippo) who reviewed the threads in detail and has the following things to say about it and the subject covered. For those who are curious as to the mentioning of names (something so rarely done here at Rerum Novarum) I want to make it clear from the outset that Art's name was published specifically at his request to do so. (And this in keeping with this writer's interpretation of the Welborn Protocol.){1} Art's words will be in indigo coloured font.

It is well done, Shawn. I think though that the argument needs to be extended a little to other issues. The Japanese had been the aggressors in the Pacific war. Their attack on Pearl Harbor while their ambassador was making overtures of peace was seen as perfidy. Their further conduct during the war was seen in a similarly negative way: Kamikaze suicide attacks, the Rape of Nanking, the campaign in Korea, the Bataan Death March and other atrocities in the Philippines, the fierceness of Island warfare, the mobilization of Okinawa civilians -- including women and children -- to offered physical resistance to US troops, and the inhumane treatment of enemy soldiers and civilians in occupied lands. They even tried and executed American POWs in violation of the Geneva Convention for alleged war crimes. There was also the perception -- correct in every detail -- that if the tables were turned; the Japanese would not have hesitated to use the atomic bomb on us.

It was not known for certain at that time but suspected by American intelligence that the Japanese had used American and British POWs along with Chinese civilians for weapons experiments at secret facilities in China. BIOLOGICAL weapons experiments. This was confirmed after the war. Many POWs were placed near bombs that were exploded and where the shrapnel contained disease organisms. They were then allowed to die untreated of the diseases that resulted.

It was known to American intelligence (though kept secret from the American Public) that the Japanese had released long-range balloons into the Jet Stream carrying explosive payloads to be dropped on the American West Coast. Several of these balloons made it to the US and some did explode causing loss of civilian life and limb.

I know that these arguments may not appeal to the "Ivory Tower" moralist. But they make a cumulative case for considering the Japanese to be a ruthless and dangerous enemy who were not to be trusted and who had used up whatever goodwill America had ever had towards the Japanese people. Placing American troops at risk in attacking the homeland of such an enemy itself represented an unacceptable moral risk. If weapons of mass destruction could be used to destroy the Japanese infrastructure, the war machine would crumble and no more American lives would have needed to be risked in the attempt to subdue an unjust and morally unrestricted aggressor.

Art
Omnes semper - ad Jesum, per Mariam, cum Petro!


For the record, I see nothing inaccurate about the various facts that Dr. Sippo outlines in the above email. I will however remand that subject to my good friend Tim Tull{2} who also sent me a communique on that thread.{3} In the meantime, I have received more than one email from people questioning my appeal to double effect moral/ethical argumentation so I may have to clarify that point in the coming days as well.


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 Post subject: More feedback....
PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 9:59 am 
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This is the second installment{1} of feedback from the August 17th Hiroshima thread posted by your blog host. Considering the depth of my friend's knowledge of WWII and its intricacies, this was a very pleasing email to receive. Like the feedback from Dr. Art Sippo earlier, will point out some information that I did not deal with in my original post.{2} Tim's words will be in green coloured font:

That's a fantastic article. Thank you for pointing out that Hiroshima was a major military logistics and munitions center. The rekindling of this debate points out the real dangerous poison coming from the Zinn-like authors and their Cool Aid drinking followers[.] Going down this path of selective examination of our national history usually roots in Marxist philosophies veiled in objective research. The debates always have in common a very narrow focus that omits the major information. Our whole media industry is based on the strategy. Technically, your article is terrific.

The one thing that's difficult in playing with numbers is their non-transferability in real situations, the real outcome of a homeland invasion may have even been far worse.

Imagine this homeland invasion scenario...our casualties are higher than expected or the campaign is dragging out a couple of years. The Soviets sensing a weakness in our massive transfer of forces to the Pacific (which was in the works), saw an opportunity to quickly gobble up Europe including England. Don't put it past them! Don't forget that Stalin declared war on Japan upon hearing of the first nuke falling. Do you think Stalin wouldn't have done it because he believed in a man's word and a handshake - ha! This would have been his one shot at Western Europe.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:27 am 
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So in other words, he completely ignores the fact that we deliberately attacked civilians, and keeps spouting off the "We'd take more casualties invading than simply nuking them" line. He fails to understand that deliberately attacking civilians is a moral evil, no matter what, as well as that it was not "Invade or nuke." We could simply have blockaded them, in which the responsibility for civilian deaths would fall solely on the shoulders of the Japanese leaders, or simply accepted a conditional surrender. That Hiroshima built carriers was irrelevant. Under the US air and naval blockade they were not capable of doing such.

To Shawn it appears that only the number of deaths is relevant, the classic myth of total warfare. Actually basing it on Catholic morality would result in a denial of the moral right to use nuclear weapons on civilian populations.

Premise 1: To deliberately attack a civilian target in war is objectively sinful.
Premise 2: The proposition "The ends justify the means" has been condemned by the Church.
Conclusion: There is no just and moral reason to deliberately attack civilians.

In addition, it may be noted that Pope Pius XII condemned the nuclear bombings and the Second Vatican Council condemned the strategic use of nuclear weapons, such as that demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
"Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation." Gaudium et Spes 80.

Lastly, it may be noted that his commentator's idea that Stalin would have made a grab at Western Europe is ridiculous. Stalin did not have the logistical capability to do so, much less the sealift capability to take England. Furthermore, even assuming that the Red Army actually obeyed their orders (they may have hated the Germans with a passion, but that hatred did not extend to the rest of the West), they would have faced these nuclear weapons, and the use of nukes against an army in the field is completely moral. Whether they actually could have beaten us is a very good question. It must be remembered that Nazi and other anti-communist guerillas (such as the Ukranian Insurgent Army) managed to keep fighting until the 1960's in places.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:44 am 
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The justifications regarding civilian casualties goes thusly:

If the US had not used nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then far more Japanese civilians would have died in the long term, regardless of the scenario. Conditional surrender is no kind of option, it would allow a moral evil to perpetuate itself. It's like offering Hitler a conditional surrender.

So let the blame fall upon our shoulders, in the knowledge that we saved lives via our guilt.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:47 am 
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And the Church condemned that line of reasoning, that the ends justify the means.

Furthermore, the conditional surrender that they wanted was preservation of the Emperor, which we did anyhow.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:09 am 
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CC, that's rather a warping of the facts. The conditional surrender they requested pre-Hiroshima was entire preservation of the Japanese hierarchy, no occupation, and no interference with their actions in Korea. They'd basically withdraw from China and the Pacific.

As for ends and means, the argument is the validity of the means. And let it not be claimed our church has not justified the means via the end before.

As for Vatican II, please everyone note when the Council happened.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 11:22 am 
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As for ends and means, the argument is the validity of the means. And let it not be claimed our church has not justified the means via the end before.


And a pope and a council have made it quite clear that the means were wrong.

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As for Vatican II, please everyone note when the Council happened.


And the relevance of that to what the Council had to say was what?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:22 am 
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Another glaring example of cafeteria catholicism whereby the teaching of the magisterium (i.e. pope + council fathers) is rejected in favour of support of one of the most evil acts in history. Those who ordered this bombing ended up in Hell along with Stalin, Mao and others responsible for mass murder.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:49 am 
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aussie_mal wrote:
Another glaring example of cafeteria catholicism whereby the teaching of the magisterium (i.e. pope + council fathers) is rejected in favour of support of one of the most evil acts in history. Those who ordered this bombing ended up in Hell along with Stalin, Mao and others responsible for mass murder.


Can you please tell me exactly how this is an example of 'cafeteria Catholicism' becuase I sure don't see it.

Additionally, how is it that you, in oppositioin to the Church who does not ever make pronouncements about the final destination of a man's soul, can declare someone in Hell?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:45 am 
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The Japanese were the terrorists of their day. You don't negotiate with terrorists. They don't understand the meaning of the word. We did the only thing possible.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:53 am 
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I read a book by James Bradley called 'Flyboys' which included interviews with many Japanese who fought during WWII. I remember at least one Japanese soldier (he may have been an officer for all I remember right now) who said that if the bomb had not dropped, the Japanese gov't would have been willing to sacrifice every last man, woman, and child to defeat the Allies--it was the mentality ingrained into the culture at the time, that it was better to face death than surrender. This Japanese man's take was that although the loss of life was horrific, it actually saved the majority in Japan by putting an end to the war.

The brutalities that were inflicted by the Japanese during WWII were quite grusome, as evidenced by their own accounts (by this I mean interviews with Japanese fighters from WWII and our own military). Cannibalism wasn't unheard of (and I will just leave it at that).

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 12:15 pm 
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CC, the Council happened at the height of the Cold War, and also happened AFTER the fact; in addition, those nuclear bombs were dropped at a time when none could have foreseen the future.

The council's pronouncement was very much in the new knowledge events like the Missile Crisis gave to the world, and should not be taken out of context.

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 Post subject: Responding to CC and MC Via Signum...
PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 5:46 pm 
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This is a response to some of those who have commented on my recent weblog threads on Hiroshima and the atomic bomb droppings.


So in other words, he completely ignores the fact that we deliberately attacked civilians,

Historical ignorance and revisionism must be bliss. The truth is, we attacked legitimate military targets and there were civilian casualties as a derivative result of this action being taken.

and keeps spouting off the "We'd take more casualties invading than simply nuking them" line.

Apparently this person does not understand the principle of double effect in moral and ethical argumentation. I alluded to it in the posting by adding a footnote linking to a thread whereby I explained this moral/ethical principle and how it applies.

He fails to understand that deliberately attacking civilians is a moral evil, no matter what, as well as that it was not "Invade or nuke."

Again, we did not "deliberately attack civilians." If this person is incapable of getting the little facts right, I am left to wonder how they expect to understand more complex moral and ethical principles from which the little facts are built on.

We could simply have blockaded them, in which the responsibility for civilian deaths would fall solely on the shoulders of the Japanese leaders, or simply accepted a conditional surrender.

No, a blockade which resulted in millions of starvation deaths would have placed the responsibility for civilian death on our shoulders. Furthermore, I remind you that the Japanese

That Hiroshima built carriers was irrelevant.

No, that situation made Hiroshima a legitimate military target; ergo the assertion of irrelevance does not stick.

Under the US air and naval blockade they were not capable of doing such.

So goes the revisionist myth. As I noted in an email to another critic who raised the blockade idea:

The blockade proposal (made by the commentator) and the land invasion proposal would have been very costly in that respect -certainly far more than the option we did choose. With the blockade, there would have been immeasurable numbers of deaths by starvation. Why is death by starvation more acceptable than death by atomic bomb?

The answer of course is that the latter is seen as more "politically correct"...the little dirty factoid that those who play revisionist history with the atomic bomb droppings do not care to admit to.

Premise 1: To deliberately attack a civilian target in war is objectively sinful.

Since we did not deliberately attack a civilian target in war, the first premise fails to sustain itself and we need not entertain the rest of the argument.

Premise 2: The proposition "The ends justify the means" has been condemned by the Church.

See my previous comments.

Conclusion: There is no just and moral reason to deliberately attack civilians.

See my previous comments

In addition, it may be noted that Pope Pius XII condemned the nuclear bombings

Those who make this assertion never seem to want to provide the proof. Likewise this person apparently fits the common mould since if they had the proof (and further, if it was convincing proof at that), then they would have cited it chapter and verse in this response. That they did not do this is quite telling to say the least for those with eyes to see..

and the Second Vatican Council condemned the strategic use of nuclear weapons, such as that demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

"Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation." Gaudium et Spes 80.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not aimed indiscriminately. They were instead targeted at military installations. The deaths of civilians (which did happen) was a derivative of this action but not the intention of the action itself. This is where the moral and ethical principle of double effect comes into play. (A topic I have delved into before on my weblog.)


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 Post subject: Response to CC and MC cont'd.
PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:12 pm 
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I am starting to remember why I do not post much at message boards anymore.{1} The main reasons for this position involve the tendency of those who want to have a discussion taking the approach of (i) making grandiose assertions, (ii) not bothering to sustain said assertions with source citations for the examination of others, (iii) repeating the same easily debunkable assertions in their argumentations -assertions I might add which they make without any pretense at demonstration whatsoever. It may not be evident from the way the thread was posted here{2} but I did not merely make assertions in that post but sustained it with various hyperlinks for the readers to take into consideration when assessing my arguments.

Lastly, it may be noted that his commentator's idea that Stalin would have made a grab at Western Europe is ridiculous.

This was obviously written by someone who was unfamiliar with the true capabilities of the Soviet military...not to mention unfamiliar with the kind of person who was Josef Stalin.

Stalin did not have the logistical capability to do so, much less the sealift capability to take England.

There was nothing that stood in the way of the Red Army sweeping across Western Europe -particularly if we removed military personnel and equipment and moved it to the Pacific theatre. And what we had there would not have prevented the Soviets from taking continental Western Europe.

Remember, the Soviets had by far the most powerful military force in Europe at the time. And once they swept across Western Europe -which they would have if they had detected any weakness whatsoever in our resolve to defend it- they could have blockaded England and brought the latter to her knees without the kind of scruples about such actions as we in the US would have had with doing the same thing to the Japanese. Stalin after all was not against doing whatever he needed to do to achieve his objections -as my ancestors who died in the Ukrainian terror famine could amply testify to (if they still had voices to speak about if).

Furthermore, even assuming that the Red Army actually obeyed their orders (they may have hated the Germans with a passion, but that hatred did not extend to the rest of the West), they would have faced these nuclear weapons, and the use of nukes against an army in the field is completely moral.

We did not have enough nuclear weapons to use them in Europe at the time. Furthermore, the nukes were not pinpoint in accuracy and would have wiped out a lot of civilians in the European theatre. Unlike in Japan (where they military civilian line was blurred for not a few reasons), the civilians in the European nations would have been far more innocent than many of the Japanese civilians were. (Siggy did not post several of the live links in that posting of mine at key points where this fact was demonstrated.)

Whether they actually could have beaten us is a very good question.

Yes it is. I for one do not believe the Americans would have had the patience to deal with another war in Europe so soon after the surrender of Germany...particularly since we still had Japan to deal with. By contrast, the Soviets were on an imperialist mission and would not have hesitated if we had shown any weakness in this situation...the kind of weakness that a long protracted land invasion or a blockade attempting to wait the Japanese out with would have involved.{3}

It must be remembered that Nazi and other anti-communist guerillas (such as the Ukranian Insurgent Army) managed to keep fighting until the 1960's in places.

This is true. But again, the Soviets would have used whatever they wanted without scruples against the Nazis and others who were still holding out...such as nuclear bombs without any concern whatsoever for those who would have died as a result.

CC, that's rather a warping of the facts.

Indeed it was MC. But that is what happens when people try to argue historical events and situations in selective fashion without concern for the sitz im leben.

The conditional surrender they requested pre-Hiroshima was entire preservation of the Japanese hierarchy, no occupation, and no interference with their actions in Korea. They'd basically withdraw from China and the Pacific.

Precisely. And there was no way we could have accepted that.

As for ends and means, the argument is the validity of the means. And let it not be claimed our church has not justified the means via the end before.

Whatever the case with your above statement, it does not apply in this instance. Instead, as I noted to CC, the proper interpretive matrix is the moral and ethical principle of double effect. I am coming to the conclusion that I am going to have to unpack this.

As for Vatican II, please everyone note when the Council happened.

Oh yes...it happened in the 1960's. This was the era of rampant revisionism on the part of not a few parties in the secular world on recent events and circumstances. (The revisionist histories of the atomic bomb droppings happened at this time along with the revisionist histories of Pius XII: two significant examples worth mentioning.)

Historical revisionism is one of the many masks of marxism as I noted earlier this year. This is not to say that CC is a marxist of course but this parallel should be a sobering one for them as I see it.

As for your last posting on the subject MC, you interpreted GS 80 in the correct context.





Notes:

{1} Signum Crucis and Anawim could vouch for the fact that prior to December 31, 2002, I was a frequent contributer to Steve Ray's message board. (I participated there from approximately March of 1999 through New Years Eve 2002: before they changed the board format.)

{2} Of which I do not blame Signum for btw...I asked her to post it and she posted it as she saw fit. The full link can be viewed HERE.

{3} To reiterate footnote six from my August 17th posting:

There were 10,000 military aircraft targeted for Kamikaze missions against the US military along with roughly a quarter million or more soldiers in Hiroshima alone. Also, Hiroshima was not on Kyushu but instead was on Chukoyu one island up. So after an invasion at Kyushu, there would be fighting there and also with a quarter million more troops in Hiroshima which could either have remained there or moved east to Shikoku. Either way, there would have been no avoiding them since (unlike Europe) a blitzkreig tank attack strategy would not work and without such a lightening fast approach, the Japanese troops at Hiroshima would have been able to engage the enemy and also have knowledge of the terrain to their advantage too. But that is not all.

Since moving to Shikoku would have involved two island jumps instead of one as in going to Hiroshima (see this map for a visual guide), it is most probable that they would have gone through Hiroshima where the quarter million additional military troops were already stationed. Furthermore, there was approximately three million civilians who were instructed in taking a "last stand" against the possible invaders. This was not accounted for in the original numbers cited by The Commentator: the idea that the civilians would place themselves in the position of being considered military personnel by trying to kill invading American troops. Stop to consider that for a moment.

Imagine if you will[url=http://junkyardblog.net/archives/week_2005_07_31.html#004618]
a child with sharp objects[/url] (or civilian men and women) trying to use said objects as weapons on invading soldiers. And from there, I am sure you can imagine that such a tactic would not go on too long before the soldiers had to start shooting civilians simply to insure their own safety. After all, you cannot have people stabbing you in the back with sharp objects when you are at battle and at that point, civilians blur the lines between civilian and military personnel. And at that point, the "self-defense" approach would kick in and I guarantee you the deaths and casualties would probably double over any projections from a purely military standpoint.


Remember, with a quarter million troops in Hiroshima being engaged after the massive troop levels at Kyushu -and presuming we actually pushed north from there of course- and three million civilians instructed as noted above- the American forces would be outnumbered significantly. Hence, when I say 650,000 deaths (and one and a half million additional casualties if not more) amongst the Japanese populace, consider everything I noted in this note and you will recognize I am sure that these are not inaccurate estimates.

Anyone who thinks that those 10,000 plus kamakaze planes (which were based solely in Hiroshima: they were not the only planes available for kamakaze missions I might add) would not have been used against the ships of any attempted long-term blockade on the part of the US is in need of a reality transplant


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 6:27 pm 
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Quote:
Imagine if you will
a child with sharp objects (or civilian men and women) trying to use said objects as weapons on invading soldiers. And from there, I am sure you can imagine that such a tactic would not go on too long before the soldiers had to start shooting civilians simply to insure their own safety. After all, you cannot have people stabbing you in the back with sharp objects when you are at battle and at that point, civilians blur the lines between civilian and military personnel. And at that point, the "self-defense" approach would kick in and I guarantee you the deaths and casualties would probably double over any projections from a purely military standpoint.


So my recollections were correct in what I read about the Japanese soldier/officer said about the bomb was sort of the least of two evils...either you drop the bomb and show them you mean business, war over, lives lost, but more saved or you don't and get the scenario above.

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 Post subject: Hiroshima and Nagasaki - Conventional Bombing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:35 pm 
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Gentlemen:

I have heard it said by more than one military man who witnessed the destruction of Japanese cities that little or nothing is ever mentioned of the saturation bombing that followed the American attack on Japan via atomic bombs. Some of these military men claimed that as much damage was done later from the saturation bombing to equal the destruction done by atomic weapons.

Can anyone comment on this, and are my sources simply men who were grossly mistaken? If not mistaken, then how is it that this fact got so buried?

Of course other massive destructions were buried from the history books of the West, like the seige and uprising of Warsaw Poland in 1944 toward the end of the war. It is said that more than 400,000 people died. This is rarely mentioned in the West, almost never.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:40 pm 
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[sidetrack]What is it with Shawn and colored text, anyhow? I find it immensely distracting and hard to read.[/sidetrack]

The firebombings were (IMHO) probably as immoral as the A-bombs were, and for the same reasons. In fact, finding a city that wasn't already pretty well leveled was one of the criteria for picking a target for the bombs.

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