U.S. Should Have No Regrets in Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It Saved Millions Of Lives.

Every year on August 6th, the American public is reminded of the first nuclear weapon attack in history: The bombing of Hiroshima.

That, plus bombing of Nagasaki three days later, remain the only instances of atomic weapons used in warfare to this day .

It is estimated that the two bombs killed between 120,000 and 220,000 people, mostly civilians. It remains a turning point in the history of mankind. Although destructive on a scale never-before-witnessed, bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki did end World War II. The act prevented a prolonged invasion of mainland Japan, which most scholars believed saved tens of millions of lives.

Nonetheless, Americans for decades have been treated to musings of historical revisionists about whether the atomic bombings were morally justified. One hypothetical argument is that the Allies could have eventually beaten the Empire of Japan in the same way that the Third Reich was defeated. If the United States had simply continued their invasion of the mainland they would have suffered losses, but still would have reached Tokyo.

Were Japanese lives saved by dropping nuclear bombs?

Opponents of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki argue that this conventional invasion would have resulted in fewer civilian casualties.

They also point out that the Soviet Union would have been able to play a role in the defeat of Japan following Germany’s defeat. The U.S.S.R. declared war on the Empire of Japan on August 9, 1945, and invaded Manchuria immediately thereafter. Their victory was swift and showed the Japanese that the Soviets would no longer sit on the sidelines in the east.

There were no plans, however, for a Russian invasion of mainland Japan. That responsibility would still have fallen to the United States. Therefore, while the U.S.S.R.’s involvement was decisive, it would not have prevented the mass casualties associated with a conventional invasion.

While the argument against bombing civilians sounds appealing, it fails to consider the way in which the Empire of Japan was planning to defend their home islands. According to Japanese military documents, the empire planned to conscript the entire civilian population using a strategy of total war. At the time, the population of Japan was roughly 35 million, with four million of that total being members of their armed forces. In addition to those four million soldiers who would most likely die, a corresponding number of civilian deaths would likely have also followed.

Huge Iwo Jima losses foreshadowed tens of millions of deaths from an invasion

Even all of this does not account the millions of Allied soldiers who would have be killed during such an invasion.

The United States military’s invasion plan, Operation Downfall, called for more than five million servicemen and an additional million British troops. All of those men’s lives would have been put on the line, and assuming a casualty rate similar to that of the Battle of Iwo Jima, roughly 1.5 million would have been killed or wounded.

The casualty rate for American forces was considerably lower than that of the Japanese. Of the roughly 21,000 Japanese troops stationed on Iwo Jima, only 216 were captured –18,000 were killed and, roughly 3,000 fought in the caves of the island for weeks before surrendering.

If that casualty rate of approximately 86 percent were applied to an invasion of the Japanese mainland, more than 30 million people would have been killed in such total warfare.

With that taken into account, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the United States military made the right choice to use nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

(Photo by Charles Levy taken from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack, and photo of atomic cloud over Hiroshima by personnel aboard Necessary Evil.)

 

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Wilson most recently served as the Director of Social Media on the presidential campaign of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.He started in politics by founding the political advocacy organization A Libertarian Future after the 2012 presidential election. Its Facebook page now reaches tens of millions of people a month, and the website received more than 10 million pageviews in three years.Wilson has also launched a successful digital marketing firm with a range of domestic and international clients. After living in Europe intermittently throughout college, he currently resides in California - strictly for the climate.

Latest comments

  • Really? No regrets?

  • History books are written by the victors, who frequently fill them with self-serving nonsense. Accurate histories are seldom written until a century or more has passed.

    For what reason would the Allies have needed to invade Japan? If Japanese forces were so destroyed and dysfunctional that they had been forced to retreat to their homeland (and they were), then our mission was accomplished.

    But no, clear and total victory wasn’t enough for FDR. Instead, he demanded unconditional surrender and the humiliation of Emperor Hirohito. Just as with Germany, once the end was in sight, it became a race against the Soviet Union to achieve complete subjugation and avoid sharing territory with our communist “allies”.

    Historical revisionism includes such myopic works as this column. In typically jingoistic fashion, it picks up with the end result and then justifies it, without even questioning why there was as WWII in the first place.

    • Harry Truman was president when the decision was made to use the atomic bombs

    • Slight quibble: Truman was the president when the bombs were dropped, but the decision had already been made, especially the rejection of Japan’s previous offers to surrender.

  • The Japanese surrendered several times before the bomb. It just wasn’t the terms that we wanted. The terms they offered after were the same as before, but since we were out of nuclear weapons we considered them to be good enough.

    I thought this was a Libertarian page? Since when has genocidal imperialism been a Libertarian value?

  • Anyone who wants to think critically about this issue should listen to Howard Zinn’s talk. https://youtu.be/XUBYI97cUgU

  • it wasn’t used to end the Japanese resistance, it was to send the Soviet Union a clear message it was that simple !

    • It was kinda like spelling out “hey, you should probably build tons of these, too” in dead bodies. Message received!

  • Mass murder. No excuses.

  • Glad to see all the comments are better than that article!

  • Although it’s is in vogue to condemn them this article explains why they were the correct choice to make and not only saved American lives but also Japanese lives as well.

  • My Father in Law was in the Marines at Okinawa. The invasion of Japan would have made Okinawa look like a vacation trip.

  • I am sorry you have a very distorted view of American history, Japan was not going to surrender, they were very well prepared to oppose any invasion force, I have talked to several Wii vets that were on ships and ready for the call, I was stationed in Okinawa, trained in their jungles, seen the battle scars of the island, have jumped off of the suicide cliffs that the Japanese soldiers encouraged the Okinawa civilians to jump to there deaths, well to be honest your ignorance is inexscusable, I would suggest the person who said mass murderers, brush up on history, that is a very mean liberal attitude that has no idea of the facts

    • It takes some interesting mental gymnastics to classify as “mean” the denunciation of vaporizing hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians and leaving that many more with injuries, illnesses, and cancers for generations to come. Many of the other commenters on this thread have pointed out the ample evidence that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were NOT necessary to achieve the surrender of the Japanese, who had already been trying to surrender and getting stonewalled. I appreciate your service Todd, but I think it’s more than a little patronizing of you to assume that I have not read up or studied WW2 or history, when I am a few months away from having a 4-year degree in it.

    • Wow 4year degree, too bad there isn’t any vets left that were in the war for you to talk with, instead of reading what some liberal professor who is distorting history is spoon feeding you

    • The “Japs” were trying to surrender. That was apparent on Okinawa. White flags a flying.

      A little less ,what if, and revisit a few of the battles. There were no surrenders.

  • WTF?!

  • Even the American Conservative takes a better position than Jack News. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/dont-whitewash-the-hiroshima-bombing/

  • Zero regrets.

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