Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Truman and the bomb

So, I just completed the last parts of the online documentation, and thought I would note down my thoughts on the main factors for Truman's use of the bomb:

-Since it was built it had to be used ($2 bln was a lot of money to spend on sth whose power as a deterant would only stem from evidence of its potency).
-It would end the war
-It would send a clear signal to anyone watching that the U.S. just started a whole new game
-It would save 500,000 U.S. lives... (?)

Not sure about that last one. Time to read Alperowitz I think.

As for the learning points, I can see I have a LONG way to go to get up to speed with some of my learned co-students but I am reassured that this VLE allows me to learn from other people's contributions and comment. Keeping up with the discussion, on top of reading, studying, researching (oh and earning the tuition fee!) is a lot of work but when you get up in the morning to log on before boiling the kettle then the motivation is obviously there.


Dan Ford said...

I don't think that anyone ever seriously predicted 500,000 lives lost on the American side in an invasion of Japan. Civilians are prone to confuse 'fatalities' with 'casualties'. The half-million figure, if it was ever bruited, surely referred to casualties. (Truman may well have misremembered when he was justifying himself postwar.)

My favorite piece of revisionism is Hiroshima's Shadow, by Kai Bird and others. In a review of this book I wrote: 'Since 1945, an unbreachable wall has been erected between the men who fight and those who write about fighting. We are assured, in condemnation of Truman's decision to use the atomic bombs rather than invade Japan, that American deaths in an invasion would be "only" 26,000 to 40,000. It needs a college professor who knows he'll never see combat to draw such such a conclusion. (The figures also seems to be used incorrectly; I think they're two estimates, one for the invasion of Kyushu and the other for Honshu, for a combined total of 66,000.) That's the death of every man in two, three, or four divisions.'

(No offense intended to the KCL War Studies faculty!)

Marc-Michael Blum said...

Well it might be worth looking at the figures of the battle for Berlin lasting from April 16th to May 2nd 1945:

Casualties SU: more than 300.000 DEAD
Casualties Germany: 300.000 DEAD (including about 50% civilians)

Sergio said...


You might find this interesting:


Sergio said...

Sorry, the whole address doesn't fit it, so I had to chop it up!