Nagasaki, The Second Bomb

Don’t miss the New Yorker’s horrifyingly informative article about Nagasaki, the bomb, and the planning that went into it.

Years after the bombing, General Leslie Groves, the micromanaging head of the Manhattan Project, admitted that he had never been able to figure out exactly when or why Nagasaki “was brought into the picture.” It was included on an initial list of seventeen potential targets, in late April of 1945, but by early May it had been weeded out. Although the city manufactured engines and torpedoes and was an important port, it was also home to an Allied prisoner-of-war camp, which made it less attractive.

And just imagine!

Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura


And why was Yokohama taken off the list?  Surely a major military/naval port?

Yokohama was removed from the list; the U.S. military preferred targets that had not already been damaged by conventional munitions, which would make it hard to see the effects of the new weapon amid the old rubble.

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I am not one of those who think the dropping of the atomic bombs shows something peculiarly evil in the American war leadership.  I agree with both sides of the argument. Dropping the bombs was a terrible evil.  Not dropping the bombs and expecting 100,000 to die in a land invasion would have been a terrible evil.  Trying to create a taxonomy of evil in a war that killed some 60 million — the 140, ooo dead from the Hiroshima bomb is .23% of that number– is like disputing the rankings of orders of infinity. The use of the bombs followed the logic of war.  Had others developed the bomb it would almost surely have been used. Once war is begun and the amygdala of fear is joined to the planning powers of the fore-brain, war in the modern age will continue until exhaustion or capitulation.

The only utility in assessing blame and opportunities missed in the past is to be able to apply that knowledge to what is being done today. What opportunities are being dismissed, what short-shortsightedness is not seeing down the road, what personal instabilities are pushing policies likely to lead to more very imaginable horrors?


Nuclear Summer: Remembered in Song

Every August, the four days of the 6th through the 9th ring like a mournful bell in the memories of many.  The first atomic bomb in history was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at 8:15 in the morning, Monday, August 6, 1945.

The radius of total destruction was about one mile (1.6 km), with resulting fires across 4.4 square miles (11 km2).[67]Americans estimated that 4.7 square miles (12 km2) of the city were destroyed. Japanese officials determined that 69% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and another 6–7% damaged.[68]

Some 70,000–80,000 people, or some 30% of the population of Hiroshima were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm,[69] and another 70,000 injured.[70] Over 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured—most had been in the downtown area which received the greatest damage.[71] [wikipedia]

The second, and last atomic bomb ever dropped in a war, exploded over Nagasaki, a back-up target because of clouds over the primary target, Kokura, at 11:01, Thursday, August 9.

The resulting explosion had a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT (88 TJ).[94] The explosion generated heat estimated at 3,900 °C (7,050 °F) and winds that were estimated at 1,005 km/h (624 mph).

Casualty estimates for immediate deaths range from 40,000 to 75,000.[95][96][97] Total deaths by the end of 1945 may have reached 80,000.[1] … The radius of total destruction was about 1 mile (1.6 km), followed by fires across the northern portion of the city to 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the bomb.  [wikipedia]

There is little public remembrance of these two events in the United States these days.  But the wonderful KPFA listener supported radio station, on its Across the Great Divide, Sunday show, had a song compilation that surprised me in its extent.

You can both listen and see the play list here.  And drop ’em a dime, fer pete’s sake.  No one does stuff like this on other radio stations.

These are just a few:

Pete Seeger Never Again The A Bomb We Shall Overcome Columbia
Malvina Reynolds What Have They Done To The Rain Ear To The Ground smithsonian folkways
Stringband New Talking Atom Blues The Indispensable Nick

Cross Posted at All In One Boat