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No sympathy. No regrets.

I probably should have posted this yesterday, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, but better late than never.
The annual whining in the press about the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki leaves me cold, but then, unlike most of the journalists and commentators, I actually know something about the war against Japan. I know that it didn't start with the attack on Pearl Harbor - by the time the Arizona went down on December 7, the The Rape Of Nanking was almost four years in the past. The truth of the matter is that for eight years before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the soldiers and sailors of the Japanese Empire had cut a barbaric swath of rape and pillage across Asia from Manchuria to Imphal in India, butchering prisoners of war and civilians alike. They had fought suicidally from New Guinea to Okinawa, burned Manila to the ground with 100,000 civilians trapped in it, and given no indication that they would ever surrender.

Which meant that after the fall of Okinawa, the United States was looking at the very real possibility of having to invade Japan in the same way they had invaded Guadalcanal, Leyte, Okinawa, and a dozen other islands all across the Pacific. From the most recent invasions, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, we knew that the Japanese would be dug in deep, determined to resist to the last man, and anxious to kill or wound every American that they possibly could. American casualties would be horrific, estimated to be in the millions for the first phase, Operation Olympic, alone. From the experience of Okinawa, we could anticipate that the Japanese - military and civilians, although the Japanese plans drew no distinction between the two- would suffer over 90% casualties.

And people wonder why Truman dropped the bomb? What would history say of him had he not done so? As for me, I have no sympathy for the Japanese on this account. They had it coming. There has not, to this date, been a official, written apologies to the Chinese or Philippine nations for what happened at Nanking or Manila; even after those apologies are delivered (if they ever are), I hold that apologizing for the atomic bombing of Japan is unnecessary and stupid.

Unless, of course, you actually think we should have had millions of Americans killed or wounded in the process of exterminating 90% of the Japanese nation. I refuse to speculate whether this is the case with the current Administration.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 10th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
Everything I've read about the fights at Iwo Jima and Okinawa was frankly horrifying.
Aug. 10th, 2010 08:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the whole chain of Central Pacific island assaults were not pleasant bedtime reading by any stretch of the imagination. I first read about them in Samuel Eliot Morison's magisterial History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, which is sixteen volumes of entertaining and awesome but doesn't pull any punches about how bloody and, yes, horrifying, the Marines' experience was on those atolls leading up to the Golgotha of Okinawa.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 11th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
I have read it, actually, as part of the research for my web serial. As well as "Helmet for my Pillow," which was from the same time period. (I discussed my reaction to those books, as well as a book written my a living Marine officer, in this entry.)

Amazing and horrifying stuff.
Aug. 11th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
I actually came to With the Old Breed after reading William Manchester's Goodbye Darkness, but everything cipherpunk says about it is correct, as you know.
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
I bought it after watching The War documentary by Ken Burns, which I now own on DVD. Sledge's book is amazing. I've heard about Goodbye Darkness, perhaps I'll pick it up.
Aug. 13th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
I like Goodbye Darkness a lot, but I would be the first to admit that it has flaws as a history and as a work of autobiography; it tries to do both, sort of, but even Manchester admits that no one Marine could have possibly survived all the battles from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. Still, I think it's worth reading.
Aug. 13th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
Cool thanks. I just finished Brotherhood of Heroes by Bill Sloan about Peleliu, which was a great read. It mentions a lot of the same people Sledge includes in his book, including Merriel "Snafu" Shelton, R.V. Burgin, Captain Andy "Ack Ack" Haldane, Lt. "Hillbilly" Jones, and Gunny Haney. In fact, one of the riflemen in the book who was in K/3/5, Sterling Mace, is my friend on Facebook! He's writing a book scheduled to come out next February on his 87th birthday. He's really great to talk to and is great about answering any questions you have.


R.V. Burgin has a book called Islands of the Damned which I also plan on reading.
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Going to have to look into that. Thanks!
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
We appear to have the same amount of interest in this subject, always happy to help!!
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
Sledge and Leckie's books are both amazing.
Aug. 13th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Do you have any other recs?
Aug. 13th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
About military history in general, the Pacific campaign in WW2, or the Marine experience specifically?

Edited at 2010-08-13 08:26 pm (UTC)
Aug. 13th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
*thinks* Actually, you know, I don't know as much about Vietnam and the Korean war as I wish I did. Have you read any good stuff on that?
Aug. 13th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Without question, the best Korean War book is T. R, Fehrenbach's This Kind of War, although the chapters in Manchester's American Caesar that deal with Korea (from MacArthur's perspective) are also good. I also like S.L.A. Marshall's The River and the Gauntlet, which is about the Chinese winter offensive that pushed the UN forces back from the Yalu River (almost) all the way back below the 38th parallel.

Vietnam...augh. I read way too much about Vietnam as a kid. This is a short review of my favorite book on it, although I'm also very fond of Lewis Sorley's A Better War, Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, Harry Summers' On Strategy, Hal Moore's We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, and Jack Broughton's Thud Ridge. On the fiction side, John del Vecchio's The 13th Valley, James Webb's Fields of Fire, and William Butterworth's Orders to Vietnam, which is a young adult novel that doesn't read like one.
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:33 am (UTC)
I second this. Bought it twice now, read it three times.
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
I've actually noticed a shift in the media from "Wah wah wah, dark days in American history" to simple observances of the event over the past few years.
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
I guess that's progress.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 9th, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC)
Just read the above.

Just added you to my Friends list.

My father was a historian, and I got interested further by the bits of history referenced in SF works. One thing that most people in the West don't realize, and often deny automatically, is that in Asia, war atrocities are traditional.

In Asia the most universally respected Western ruler is Adolf Hitler.

Atomic bombs changed the game. They made them afraid. Afraid in a way they had never experienced.

They're still freaking out over it.

I like Japanese culture, as a general thing.

But I'm glad.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )



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