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Every August Brings The Atomic Winds Of The Bomb Howling Out Of History.

History is more than binge watching the Hitler Channel with a few War In The Pacific shows tossed in for balance.

If history is your passion, but you aren’t a history major with an advanced degree, your opinion still matters.

Every August you must ask, “Was dropping nuclear bombs on Japan the right thing do to?”

Your answer may change over the years as new research delivers more evidence for and against the bomb.

Was it the right move? Was it?

Please continue reading after this: No one deserves a nuclear bomb death, but…

Picking through events of Japan in WWII shows a consistent behavior.

They’re big victories carried extra weight when called The Rape of Nanking, Rape of Singapore, Rape of Manilla. It’s probably not fair to call every Japanese action in WWII a rape.

What is a better word for their brand of battle?

News today travels fast and dies before the next twenty four hour news cycle. Dropping the bomb on Japan is more than news and it will never die.

At the same time news of Japanese war crimes is slowly fading, and while a small number try to compare nuclear attacks to barbaric Japanese treatment of conquered people, they’re not the same.

War trauma affects winners and losers. The only ones safe are the dead. The rest of us have to figure it out on our own, and the help of a mushroom cloud to remind us what’s what. So let’s take a closer look.

Japan wasn’t leaving WWII like Russia did in WWI when their poor showing and an internal revolution forced them out.

The Japanese armed forces were in it to win it, or take many with them in a loss. They were the guys who either killed themselves because they were losing, or threw themselves against the enemy in suicide charges during their losses.

Once things sorted out, Japanese pilots invented the kamikazi, and that was an eye opener.

Add the suicide cliffs of Saipan and Tinian where Japanese civilians jumped to their death rather than surrender to Americans, and you see the picture. A closer look reveals not everyone jumped voluntarily. If they didn’t jump they got a push, or shot then tossed over, by Japanese soldiers.

It was war at its worst.

And this is before the bomb dropped.

A WWII documentary The Fog Of War argues about proportionality, or an even fight. Gun vs gun, bomb vs bomb, missile vs missile is fair. The bomb vs a city? Unfair until you look at the results of the Japanese fire bombing campaign.

Sixteen square miles of Tokyo burned down with no surrender. Sixty six cities burned to varying degrees. No surrender. What would it take?

After Iwo Jima and Okinawa which saw Americans with flame throwers used on Japanese forces refusing to surrender, what would it take?

A recent documentary showed Admiral King and his proposal to skip the Philippines and Iwo Jima and Okinawa and head west from the Marianas to Formosa. From there American air power would bomb Japan, joining the B29’s from Saipan and Tinian.

General MacArthur’s plan was to head north, return as he’d promised to the Philippines, then to Iwo Jima and Okinawa and a possible attack on the Japanese mainland if needed.

FDR agreed with MacArthur.

While no one deserves a nuclear attack, wartime atrocities from the other side makes it easier to stomach. From an economic point of view, America had its three most expensive weapons in play.

The B29, The Bomb, and radar, all played a part in victory over Japan. All three were represented in the Enola Gay and Bockscar during their nuclear flights.

If there is something better than the end of WWII after the bomb dropped, it’s the city left out.

One Japanese city was the back up to the mission over Hiroshima and the primary target before Nagasaki.

You could call Kokura the luckiest city in the world.







About David Gillaspie


  1. Karen McCarthy Walters says:

    My dad was a tail gunner on a B29 crew and flew missions from Guam to drop bombs on Japanese factories. Those factories were building bombs and other munitions that were used against the US and our Allies. He certainly believes it was a key to turning the tide of the war! And he’s lucky to be alive … so very many did not return home!

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Hey Karen,

      I’ve got to stand with your dad and his people. They were looking forward to invasions after Iwo Jima and Okinawa and knew what was coming.

      People today look back and wonder how anything as cruel, and nuclear bombs are horribly cruel, could ever be used against another human being. The alternatives after the island hopping Americans drove Japan back, sunk their navy, downed their air force, and fire bombed sixty six Japanese cities?

      After the bombs dropped Japan still didn’t quit, so the B29s made another fire bomb run over Tokyo. People need to put themselves on a boat and decide what they would have done, drop bombs or jump out on a Japanese beach?

      Thanks for coming in Karen. I hope to hear from other veterans’ kids.

      PS: Did your dad ever mention that Guam was where Japan warehoused the booze they sent out to their Pacific empire? Imagine opening that door in the middle of nowhere.

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