Things I should have doubted: The atomic bomb ended WWII

(A key part of starting from doubt is changing your mind when confronted with new evidence. I find having this happen to be both frustrating and exciting: frustrating that I was wrong, exciting that I’ve learned something new.)

There is a narrative that dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the defining action that ended World War II. It seems plausible and I never questioned it until reading an argument against it. The article Did the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki really end the war? in the National Post Aug 04, 2017 provides a salient overview. I was particularly struck by this paragraph:

The minutes to Japanese war meetings barely mention the bombings.
For his 2011 book Hiroshima Nagasaki, Australian historian Paul Ham pored over the minutes of high-level Japanese meetings and discovered that the country’s ruling military elite had a shocking indifference toward the atomic bombings. On Aug. 9, Japan’s six-member supreme war council was meeting in a bunker under Tokyo when word was first received that Nagasaki had been destroyed. Engrossed in discussions about the Soviet invasion, the assembled men did not seem to care. “A runner comes in and says ‘Sir, we’ve lost Nagasaki, it’s been destroyed by a new ‘special’ bomb’ … and the sort of six Samurai sort of said, ‘thank you, and run along,’ ” Ham told an interviewer in 2011.

Other points provided in that article include:

  • The bombings coincided with one of the largest invasions in history.
  • The United States had been destroying Japanese cities for months.
  • Japanese officials were utterly staggered by war with Russia.
  • Before the bombings, the United States knew that the Japanese were contemplating surrender.

There is a reasonable argument that the narrative was purposely provided to the public in order to justify horrific acts.

The day after I wrote this, the 50th nation signed the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The stated goal is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. This officially ratifies the treaty – but only for those that signed it. Of course, the U.S. and the other original nuclear powers oppose this treaty.

There is quite a discussion of this online that is easily found by searching on “Did the atomic bomb end WW2?

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