August 9, 2015 Leave a Comment
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.
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?