Interesting article that argues Stalin beat Japan, not US nukle

“The Bomb Didn't Beat Japan… Stalin Did. Have 70 years of nuclear policy been based on a lie?” Ward Wilson, Foreign Policy, 05.29.13.

  • Three major problems significantly undermine the traditional interpretation of the Japanese surrender.
    1. Timing
      • Viewed from the Japanese perspective, the most important day in that second week of August was August 9. That was the day that the Supreme Council met — for the first time in the war — to discuss unconditional surrender.
        • It could not have been Nagasaki. The bombing of Nagasaki occurred in the late morning of August 9, after the Supreme Council had already begun meeting to discuss surrender.
        • Hiroshima isn't a very good candidate either. It came 74 hours — more than three days — earlier.  The preliminary report prepared by the Army team that investigated the Hiroshima bombing, the one that gave details about what had happened there, was not delivered until August 10.
    2. Scale
      • From the contemporary Japanese perspective, however, it might not have been so easy to distinguish the Bomb from other events.
        • In the summer of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force carried out one of the most intense campaigns of city destruction in the history of the world. Sixty-eight cities in Japan were attacked and all of them were either partially or completely destroyed. An estimated 1.7 million people were made homeless, 300,000 were killed, and 750,000 were wounded.  Sixty-six of these raids were carried out with conventional bombs, two with atomic bombs.
    3. Strategic Significance: If the Japanese were not concerned with city bombing in general or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in particular, what were they concerned with? The answer is simple: the Soviet Union.
      • Once the Soviet Union had declared war, Stalin could no longer act as a mediator — he was now a belligerent. So the diplomatic option was wiped out by the Soviet move.
      • The effect on the military situation was equally dramatic. Most of Japan's best troops had been shifted to the southern part of the home islands. When the Russians invaded Manchuria, they sliced through what had once been an elite army and many Russian units only stopped when they ran out of gas.
  • Attributing Japan's defeat to the Bomb also served three other specific political purposes.
    1. Helped to preserve the legitimacy of the emperor.
    2. Appealed to international sympathy.
    3. Saying that the Bomb won the war would please Japan's American victors.
  • Attributing the end of the war to the atomic bomb also served U.S. interests. If the Bomb won the war, then the perception of U.S. military power would be enhanced, U.S. diplomatic influence in Asia and around the world would increase, and U.S. security would be strengthened.. If, on the other hand, the Soviet entry into the war was what caused Japan to surrender, then the Soviets could claim that they were able to do in four days what the United States was unable to do in four years, and the perception of Soviet military power and Soviet diplomatic influence would be enhanced. And once the Cold War was underway, asserting that the Soviet entry had been the decisive factor would have been tantamount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
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