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Posts Tagged ‘myths’

Myths about nuclear weapons

Posted by picard578 on February 8, 2014

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, and some of the most expensive, weapons in existence. Consequently, there are many misconceptions about them.

Conventional wisdom holds that atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the World War II. However, generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and Hap Arnold as well as Admiral William Leahy held the opposite opinion, and Eisenhower wrote that Japan was actively seeking to surrender at the time when bombs were dropped. In fact, Japan was seeking peace since the Battle of Midway, and it was not until the USSR declared the war, invading Manchuria and the Sahalin islands, that the Emperor was finally able to convince the military hunta to accept US terms – 68 cities have already been over 50% destroyed by conventional weapons, and in Tokyo alone, 120.000 people were killed by conventional bombs, to no (military) effect; worst-hit city, Toyama, was 99,5% destroyed. Aerial photos of all of these cities are completely indistinguishable from those of Hiroshima. Of 70 cities destroyed by US bombers, Hiroshima is second in terms of number of people killed, but only 17th in terms of percentage of the city that was destroyed. There was no major meeting called after the Hiroshima was destroyed, and Japanese leaders registered no shock after it; but they were extremely rattled after the Soviets declared the war on August 8th. Reason was that Japanese have planned to either throw everything at Americans when they landed to inflict heavy losses, or to negotiate peace settlement through Moscow, both of which would have allowed them relatively good negotiating position – in particular, they wanted to preserve the position of the Emperor, on whose removal United States insisted (in the end, United States accepted that position is to remain). With Soviet invasion, both of these options went out of the window – had Japan not surrendered, Hokkaido would have been invaded by both USSR and US-led Western coalition; a situation in which Japan could not prevail or even force anything other than an unconditional surrender. Unlike atomic bombs, entry of USSR into the war radically and fundamentally altered strategic situation, which is supported by preserved diaries, letters and transcripts. And since Japan depended on imports so much, it is possible that it would have surrendered without either atomic bombs, conventional bombing campaign, Soviet invasion of Korea or Allied invasion of mainland taking place (more here). But many Japanese leaders maintained that they surrendered because of atomic bombs since it sounded better to say that “we surrendered because Americans had superweapon” than “we lost the war fair and square” – atomic bombs were a literal excuse sent from the sky. West supported the fallacy for its own reasons, including political interests in denying the USSR’s role in defeating the Japan, as well as justifying extreme expenses of maintaining strategic bombing fleet, despite the same having been proven useless. Read the rest of this entry »

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