Thursday, April 25, 2013

Middle School Assignment Promotes Anti-American View of World War II

This falls under the category of "Don't get me started..."  I make no attempt to hide my pride in being the son of an American World War II veteran.  Patriotism was not something forced on us as children, but the actions and deeds of our parents were enough to point us in the right direction.  Love of God, family and our country were just part of life.

So, it will come to no surprise to anyone that knows me, that the premise of this homework assignment is offensive.  Hey, if it works for the politically correct crowd to say they're offended at every little thing that goes on in the world, I can say I'm offended by this.  But, make no mistake about where I'm coming from...Japanese people suffered terribly from the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Tragedy knows no boundaries, ethnicity or religion.  Especially during war. 

I have some points that I'd like to make, but I'll address the homework assignment noted in the article linked first.  I don't have a problem with the title of the assignment, "Why Did the U.S. Drop the Bomb?"  That is a valid, historical question.  One of the possible choices as to this given in the assignment is, "Americans believed Japan would never surrender."  Still nothing that I would disagree with.  The only thing the Allies had to go on were battles thus far in the Pacific Theater.  Look up the battles of Saipan, Peleliu and Iwo Jima and get back to me on whether or not the Japanese had a propensity to surrender.  Saipan had many civilian casualties (most suicides) which was most likely a closer preview to what mainland Japan would have been like.
'The worksheet also suggested the U.S. bombed Hiroshima because 'the bomb cost a lot of money to develop and the U.S. wanted to use it. It would have been difficult to justify not using it after such a vast financial investment."'
And, here we go.  There was a significant financial investment in the development of the bombs, but to cast aside all of the other valid reasons for using them and think the U.S. dropped them simply to justify their existence is comical.  Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent during the war years on the military equipment, weapons, etc.  The cost of the Manhattan Project hovered somewhere around 2 billion.  Yes, that was (and still is) a lot of money.  But, in the scope of the entire expenditures of WWII, it would not have been the primary reason to use them.
'Students were instructed to write an argument against the Hiroshima attack "which you hope will stop the bombing."'
I'll just say that this is an exercise in futility.  Middle school students in 2013 have no idea what factors were in effect in 1945 influencing the leaders of the Allies and the doubts they had regarding Japan's emperor agreeing to a surrender.  Hindsight is always perfect.  Arguments can be made from both sides and I'm only pointing out what I feel like is not based on facts from the assignment in question.

I base my beliefs on the answer to the question of "why?" from the perspective of my father (and I have read accounts of other veterans like him) who, at the time of the atomic bombings, were being trained and prepared for the invasion of the Japanese mainland.  The projected casualty counts for both the Allied forces preparing to invade and Japanese forces and civilians are staggering.  While I am not a believer in using body counts as measuring tools solely for military decisions, this alone speaks volumes.  Total casualty counts (including dead and wounded) range from 250,000 to 1 million Americans.  40,000 dead and 150,000 wounded were more conservative figures reported to Truman by the Joint War Plans Committee.  More than 200,000 Japanese were conservatively figured to perish but up to 3 million if the invasion lasted up to 4 months. This figure does not included wounded and some reports stated between 5 to 10 million Japanese deaths.  Again, comparing this to the nearly quarter million lives lost in the atomic bombings seems somewhat like justifying that loss of life, but it is not.  It is simply statistical factual information that needs to be noted.
Operation Downfall
(Click Here for Full Size Image)
There are other similar reasons that I believe the decision was made for the atomic bombs.  It displayed to the leaders and people of Japan that they could be facing total destruction if they did not surrender.  There are arguments that Japan would have surrendered anyway, but I will point back to the battles already cited and say there was no valid evidence at the time that Japan would have agreed to surrender before a mainland invasion was underway.

Having said all of that, what usually gets pushed aside in the discussions of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is this : The United States had already been firebombing Japan with civilian casualties mounting.  Over 100,000 people had already been killed in the bombings of Tokyo, and these bombing missions would only increase as a proposed invasion drew nearer.  Blockades around the mainland were beginning to take hold that would have continued in the invasion and millions of people would have starved to death.  There was not going to be a good outcome for Japan, no matter the decision.

This is an argument that will never cease.  People who oppose the bombings will always say they were unnecessary, but what will be lost in future generations is the perspective of those that were looking towards that invasion.  American troops had already experienced fighting with the Japanese throughout the Pacific.  They knew...more than anyone did then, or anyone ever will, what it would have taken to bring about absolute surrender by invading Japan.  Below, RV Burgin explains this further :

Whether anyone thinks it is anecdotal evidence or not, my father never wavered from his belief that he most likely would not have lived through Operation Downfall.  They were told to not only expect the same brutal enemy soldier in battle, but to expect to see women and children trying to defend their homeland with shovels, broomsticks and little else.  Reports after the war stated that in addition, muzzle-loading muskets, longbows, or bamboo spears were being used in training these citizens.  The devastation Allied troops would have inflicted in an invasion is not something that can be ignored.

Read the entire article here: