Entering the Age of Nuclear Terror

As much as this year’s 70th anniversary of stopping the Holocaust was a moment to honor, the anniversaries over the next few weeks will mark the successful test of Trinity and America’s horrific atomic destructions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, recalls Gary G. Kohls.

By Gary G. Kohls

Seventy years ago, on July 16, 1945, an assortment of scientists, including refugees who had fled European fascism, succeeded in exploding the first experimental atomic bomb in the desert outside Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The site of the detonation of this plutonium bomb was to become blasphemously known as the Trinity Site after Trinity, the code name for the experiment. Trinity was the final stage of the U.S. Army’s top secret Manhattan Project to develop atomic bombs with the intent to use them against military targets in Nazi Germany. That is, until Germany surrendered before any of the bombs were ready to launch.

Trinity test on July 16, 1945. (U.S. government photo)

Trinity test on July 16, 1945. (U.S. government photo)

Then mission creep entered the picture and a scramble for other targets ensued. Despite the certainty that Japan was trying to find a way to surrender with honor, the U.S. military started looking for Japanese targets. The Trinity test bomb was essentially identical to the one that would destroy Nagasaki a few weeks later on Aug. 9.

Motivating factors for not just mothballing the massively expensive project included 1) the huge secret costs that would be difficult to explain to Congress if the bomb hadn’t been used, 2) the momentum that had been built up was impossible to stop, 3) the unquenchable desire to achieve retribution against Japan for its ambush at Pearl Harbor (killing 2,500 soldiers), and 4) the need to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that the United States had “the bomb” and to warn Stalin to stay away from the spoils of the already defeated Japan.

The ragtag team of mostly English-as-a-second-language immigrant scientists had been ably headed by two American citizens, the physicist Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer (the first director of the Los Alamos National Laboratories, which was code-named Project Y) and by U.S. Army Colonel (soon to be promoted to brigadier general) Leslie R. Groves. Each had been charged with organizing the hugely diverse number of scientific teams and, in the case of Groves, the organizations necessary to produce the materials that could complete such a complex and expensive mission.

The project was called the Manhattan Project because it began in New York City, started in 1939 and cost $2 billion in 1940s dollars to complete ($26 billion in today’s dollars). Ninety percent of the money was spent in the manufacturing processes and only 10 percent in research and development. The project employed 130,000 people over the war years and was slated to end at the successful conclusion of the war.

But, as is typical for such costly Pentagon endeavors, megacorporations like Dow Chemical, ICI, Raytheon and assorted investment banks interested in exploiting the publicly-financed nuclear research kept Los Alamos in business. Indeed, after the war, the nuclear weapons research, development and production were accelerated, rather than stopped, and the world became immeasurably more unstable.

Who Made It Happen

Many of the “alien” scientist leaders in the Manhattan Project were refugees from Europe and many of them would become Nobel Prize winners for their achievements in nuclear physics; but at the time of their service, they had come to America mostly to escape Adolf Hitler’s fascist regime. Significantly, following the war, the Pentagon, showing its right-wing leanings, not only purged the leftist Oppenheimer (because of his family’s anti-fascist/communist/socialist history) but it recruited scores of pro-fascist, ex-Nazi scientists in Project Paperclip.

There was, in fact, a race between the U.S. and the USSR to recruit Hitler’s scientists. It is uncertain which nation won the race; perhaps both sides lost.

The two American leaders of the Manhattan Project had certain characteristics that enabled the success of the mission. “Oppie,” as Oppenheimer was affectionately known, easily acquired loyalty from his co-workers and subordinates not because he was an authoritarian type like the military man Groves, but because he was respected and loved and therefore obediently followed.

Groves also achieved obedience and productivity from his underlings through classical military discipline that was accomplished, not out of love, but out of fear of punishment if performance wasn’t up to Groves’s standards. A military colleague of Groves, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Nichols, considered Groves “the biggest sonafabitch I’ve ever met.”

That “drill sergeant brutality” approach also works temporarily when K-9 dogs are tortured in training until they become sufficiently vicious to attack any victim that is fingered by their trainers. (But trainers are advised to watch their necks if they ever let down their guard.)

Of course, as occurs in all chain-of-command organizations (like most corporations, monarchies, fascist organizations, police states and in many punitive child-rearing families), Groves was motivated to succeed because of his own fears of punishment or disrespect from his superior officers. Like most of us, Groves was also motivated to succeed out of fear of demotion or failing to advance in his career or pay grade.

At the time of his appointment to manage the Manhattan Project, the grossly obese Groves (estimated to weigh up to 300 pounds, he was a chocolate candy and sugar addict) had been in charge of constructing the world’s largest office building, the Pentagon. The appointment to the Manhattan Project was initially regarded by Groves to be a demotion but being promoted to brigadier general helped to make the change more palatable.

The Day After Trinity

At the conclusion of the documentary film (nominated in 1980 for the Academy Award for best documentary film) “The Day After Trinity,” Oppenheimer was filmed later in life answering a question about Sen. Robert Kennedy’s efforts to initiate talks to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer replied “It’s 20 years too late. It should have been done the day after Trinity.”

Here are excerpts from some Amazon.com reviews of “The Day After Trinity.” They express much of what I wanted to say in this essay.

The Day After Trinity is a haunting journey through the dawn of the nuclear age, an incisive history of humanity’s most dubious achievement and the man behind it — J. Robert Oppenheimer, the principal architect of the atomic bomb. Featuring archival footage and commentary from scientists and soldiers directly involved with the Manhattan Project, this gripping film is a fascinating look at the scope and power of the Nuclear Age. (Amazon.com Editorial review)

“’I have become death’,” declared nuclear scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer upon first witnessing the terrible power of the atomic bomb. The Oscar-nominated documentary The Day After Trinity uses newsreel footage and recently declassified government film to trace the growth of the Manhattan Project under Oppenheimer’s guidance. The New Mexico A-bomb tests are shown, as are the aftermaths of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

A plaque at the site of Trinity nuclear test on July 16, 1945. (Thomas Farley/Wikimedia Commons)

“The final scenes detail Oppenheimer’s transformation from the ‘father of the A-bomb’ to one of the most tireless opponents of nuclear power. The Day After Trinity received its widest distribution when it was telecast over PBS on April 29, 1981.

“The Day After Trinity covers both the day after, but more importantly the days before Trinity as experienced by the scientists who built the atom bomb. The story of the bomb is usually told from its public debut (at the Trinity test site), though the story begins long before. Here it is told very well, through fascinating interviews with the men and women who lived in the strangely utopian Los Alamos.

Day After Trinity connects the humanity of the project with the horror of the result. The destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki make it hard to imagine the sort of people capable of creating such mass destruction. Perhaps for that reason, the creators are sometimes written off as mad scientists, or lumped in under Oppenheimer’s personality. But the people on the screen are brilliant, insightful, agonized, and funny. It contributes a great deal toward our understanding of the bomb, without making it any easier.” (http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=The_Day_after_Trinity)

Keeping the Peace?

In one of her early songs, “Keeping the Peace,” Duluth’s singer-songwriter Sara Thomsen wrote:

“Down in New Mexico we were trav’lin’ along. Stopped in Los Alamos, didn’t stay long, But we wanted to see the scene of the crime Where they made the A-bomb and then created a shrine.

“Not too far from my own back door Is a trigger that would signal up a nuclear war It travels down to the ground, across the sea And up from the water comes a nuclear submarine.

“Walkin’ through the woods with an old Swede saw Are some people who decided to uphold the law. They said, ‘Keepin’ the peace is a whole lot bigger And they cut down the pole of that nuclear trigger.’”

Motivated by the same outrage (as expressed in Thomsen’s song) over what America’s warmongers have been doing to the planet and its creatures, every July 16 since 1990 a group of Catholic Christians have been gathering at the Trinity Site for a vigil. Similar to the School of the America’s watch efforts, the gatherings at Trinity have been important parts of the many nonviolent antiwar resistance efforts that attempt to raise the public’s consciousness about the diabolical evil that was unleashed at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945.

Jesus joined many other moral philosophers in saying “as you reap so shall you sow.” Gandhi said that your means are your ends in embryo. What those sayings mean is that if one wants to achieve, for example, truth (an end), one cannot choose lying as the means to attain it. If one uses violence as a means to an end, one will not achieve peace. If one wants peace, one must choose peaceful means. In other words, one can predict failure or success of a desired end result according to the means that were chosen.

So nations that choose violence and war as a tactic in dealing with other nations and then claim that peace is the desired end, you will know that they are either deceiving themselves and others or are ethically severely compromised. And that is why the development and threat to use nuclear (or other) weapons, will not result in world peace, but rather endless war and retaliation.

Refusing to think about the long-term consequences of our nation’s militaristic dominative power strategies (as usual) in the nuclear weapons proliferation that poisoned and bankrupted the two superpowers after World War Two, the U.S. military and certain of its civilian and corporate partners in crime have kept sowing the proverbial wind, and now the rest of us are reaping the whirlwind.

Radiation Exposure

The inevitable lethal consequences of widespread radiation from nuclear weapons testing and use (ex: depleted-uranium armor-piercing shells) and the huge unaddressed, impossible problem of widespread radioactive waste from nuclear power installations keeps coming back to haunt us, again and again, in the form of uncountable tens of millions of radiation-induced cancers, congenital deformities, physical and mental disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorders (of exposed soldiers, as in Gulf War Syndrome), toxic food, toxic habitats (e.g., Chernobyl and Fukushima), unaffordable nuclear arms races, permanent cold and hot wars (many of which were provoked by the Reagan-era escalation of America’s nuclear weapons industries in the 1980s, provoking similar escalations by fearful enemies).

Our so-called American ingenuity and blind trust in the moving hand of the holy market can be so pitifully short-sighted (usually only looking out as far as the next quarter’s earnings reports), that corrupt crony capitalism can be rightfully blamed for having produced numerous international war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace.

In his antiwar poem “Armageddon” poet William Dickey identifies one of the major root causes of war and why our military leaders always seem to do what is best for the longevity of their military professions. Provoking endless war is good for the business of the Pentagon and all the industries that profit from war:

“Leonard Woolf said that there would be war

because the generals, having devised their weapons,

and seen them manufactured

would have to try them out, and it is true.

There is no invention of man that has not been used

if it was capable of being used, and these are.

Electric cattle prods defame the soft personal testicles.

But from this Armageddon, the storm’s center,

not even a cry

“There are thieves among us.”

The Decision

As vilified as Harry Truman has been over the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then claiming to have lost no sleep over those decisions, he has been quoted as saying “All through history it has been the nations that have given the most to the generals and the least to the people that have been the first to fall.”

Truman was a neophyte on the world stage when Franklin Roosevelt died suddenly right before VE Day, and he was immediately surrounded by overwhelmingly militaristic types who were all in favor of using the new bomb. Nobody, even the physicists, fully understood the tremendous lethality of nuclear bombs nor could they have predicted the condemnation that would be leveled at America for being the first and only nation to use that weapon.

One civilian opponent of using nuclear weapons against civilian targets was Oswald Brewster, a Manhattan Project contractor from New York. He wrote a heartfelt 3,000-word letter to President Truman that said.

“This thing must not be permitted on earth. We must not become the most hated and feared people on earth, however good our intent may be. I beg of you, sir, not to pass this (letter) off because I happen to be an unknown, without influence or name in the public eye. There surely are men in this country to whom you could turn, asking them to study this problem.”

Truman’s Secretary of War Henry Stimson and his military advisor (and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) George Marshall were so impressed with the sentiment and logic of Brewster’s letter that they actually delivered it to Truman. But nothing could slow down the momentum towards the satanic war crime. The letter probably wound up in the circular file.

Dr. Kohls writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly magazine that is published in Duluth, Minnesota. Many of his columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn.

26 comments for “Entering the Age of Nuclear Terror

  1. Zachary Smith
    July 18, 2015 at 22:27

    On this thread and many others I’ve defended the use of the A-bombs on Japan. Obviously the only way I can justify this is to use the argument that killing/executing/murdering a couple of hundred thousand humans was the only way I can see – even with perfect hindsight – of ending a war which was going to inevitably going to kill millions more humans.

    The Japanese of the day were infected with a version of what the US suffers today – they truly did believe they were God’s Chosen People and as such they were Exceptional. Because of this arrogance, they behaved very badly. So much so that hating them was an extremely easy thing to do.

    I’ve yet to read any author who will claim that if Japan had the Bomb, they wouldn’t have used it in a heartbeat. Late in the war the details of the Death March in the Philippines were generally known. Captured photographs and letters told of how captured Allied pilots and sailors had been treated. And the US command knew of their activities in China.


    The Chinese were subhuman in Japanese eyes – one reason the hatred between the two nations lingers to this day. Japan has simply refused to admit how badly THEY behaved, and for all I know that nation may be quietly encouraging the Poor Innocent Japan ritual which starts about this time every year.

    This isn’t to say that the Americans of the day were tin gods with impeccable morals – they weren’t. But a good part of the American misbehavior was caused by the way the Japanese behaved. They fought to the death, and played just as dirty as they could manage. Bad behavior begets more bad behavior.

    Regarding those Japanese biological weapons, the records of actual field use were so desirable that the US military didn’t prosecute the Japanese perps. (but the evil commies did!) Far worse than that, there is quite a bit of credible evidence that the US took the Japanese bio-weapons and used them during the Korean War. This was at least as bad as Bush’s and Obama’s torture of the current era. But now it’s America which prides itself on being “Exceptional”, even when we’re not. Especially when we’re not.

    All I’ve been trying to say was that the situation in 1945 was so nasty only something drastic would avert a far greater disaster. For everybody – enemy and allies alike.

    • Uncle Sam's WWII Nephew
      July 19, 2015 at 10:35

      Your belief is based on conjecture of what might have happened otherwise — which in matters of human behavior, is not certain and therefore an opinion.

      I will agree with your assessment of the US today and add that the weapons we have make us THE greatest threat to life on earth today

      Now here is is some conjecture you may not have pondered: if the US had not used the A-bombs in Japan, would we now be the arrogant threat to the world we are today? And have you considered the A-bombs use then were advocated by those with the same American philosophy for spreading “democracy and freedom” that has been carried forward to this day while being responsible for somewhere upwards of thirty million human lives to date?

      If we didn’t use the bombs on Japan in 1945 we might not be responsible for 30,000,000 human deaths since and might not be the arrogant and self-serving threat to life that we currently are.

  2. Uncle Sam's WWII Nephew
    July 16, 2015 at 22:52

    Just knowing a couple of things about Truman makes me think he was more inclined to give into pressure than think things through; a typical politician and not a quality of morally principled leadership however much Truman or anyone else may have thought so.

    He gave in concerning Israel’s creation through Zionist terrorism, admittedly while being pressure cooked by the Zionist lobby.

    And there seems ample evidence he gave in again to all those that wanted to drop the bomb(s) on Japan for whatever reason(s) — as a demonstrations or punishment, or maybe out of fear or a desire to deliver and be part of or witness mass destruction beyond previous capability — some of the reasoning and rationalizations advocating the bombings certainly would have been disgraceful if the truth could be told.

    Logically, one might think a demonstration somewhere off the coast of Japan would have brought surrender unless all Japan would have preferred death.

    And after the bombs, if the Japanese had continued to fight with whatever they had available, how many bombs would we have dropped and what percent of Japan and the earth’s livable land, air and sea would have been contaminated or otherwise severely affected?

    • Zachary Smith
      July 17, 2015 at 00:24

      Well sir, so far as I know it’s just about impossible for anybody other than a ‘typical politician’ to be elected in this country. If we happen to get better than that, it’s pure luck.

      So far as I can tell, Truman was on the side of establishing Israel from the beginning, but he was still shocked by the pressure exerted on him. The Zionists were on the verge of success, and just weren’t taking any chances at all.

      Some biographical tidbits have suggested Truman fancied himself to be a bit of a military expert on account of his WW1 war experiences. So his going with ‘force’ solutions would have come naturally. As with the later Zionists, the pressure on Truman was immense. As a practical politician he knew that any solution short of a total surrender – without using the new A-bomb – would have meant instant political Hari-kiri for himself and the rest of the command structure. The nation was not in the mood of taking any more casualties, nor for cutting the Japanese any slack whatever.

      So Truman was not any kind of an obstacle to the nuclear bombings. Worse than that, he would have almost certainly knuckled under to using the other terror weapons which had been developed during the war. Roosevelt had turned down a proposal to bombard Iwo Jima with poison gas, but I doubt if Truman was made of the same stuff. Authors who didn’t know about the Bomb were already demanding the use of poison gas.


      It gets worse:


      Just look at the list of horrors on that single page.

      The folks who can only talk about the A-bombs overlook what the US was already doing in the air war against Japan. Here is a period piece about the wonderful fire weapons we had made. (page 28)


      On page 32 is a picture of one of the little ‘fireflies’ from the 500lb M69. The big Tokyo firebombing raid involved dropping over 50,000 of these devilish little devices. Each one was virtually unquenchable, and each one could burn down your house.

      If the fanatics want to obsess about a US war crime, why in Hades haven’t they focused on the firebombings? Those were honest-to-God crimes, any way you want to look at it.

      But folks must recall the mood of the country in the later stages of WW2. Dead Japanese were something to cheer about, not regret. As Halsey said, “Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill more Japs”. And nobody much cared how they died.

      The A-bombings (along with the Soviet declaration of war) ended WW2 and prevented a beyond-belief holocaust on the mainland of Japan.

      Invented fantasies about the Japanese sneaking around with back-door surrender offers in order to “prove” the evil of a particular weapon just annoy the hell out of me.

      Speaking of which, if anybody can produce a document penned by Douglas MacArthur which describes HIS involvement in the backdoor surrender process, I’d surely like to learn about it. The second-third hand business via right-wing sources just doesn’t cut the mustard.

      • Uncle Sam's WWII Nephew
        July 17, 2015 at 02:44

        Typical politicians have made a mockery of democracy and capitalism in the US.

        Zionists were lobbying the US government well before 1948 and the decision to legitimize Zionist terrorism by recognizing Israel in 1948 is a sure sign Truman gave in to the pressure as that decision was completely contrary to what moral principle would have demanded.

        You seem to have verfied most of what I said but then you say lives were saved and the war would not have ended without the A-bombs — I’m not convinced that statement can br proven. And then you want to justify using the bombs because of the mood of the country and the fact Truman would have lost his job? So he would rather kill people than lose his job, when put in the context you did. As for the mood of the country, he is supposed to be the leader and set the mood. That mood of the country is what Bush Jr. and previous presidents have manipulated to start illegal wars. So why not manipulate people to end war with less bloodshed? Of course that alternative outcome can’t be proven neither but we could shoot for that more often.

        If you want to talk about war crimes, is there is one decade since WWII in which the US has not committed war crimes?

        Making and detonating nuclear weapons is hazardous and evil in itself — and needs no further validating factors of any kind, Japanese or otherwise…

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 17, 2015 at 08:33

        Zachary, I understand (I think) the point you are trying to make. You are right. There really wasn’t a lot of good options left, when it came to a Japanese surrender. The problem with reading history (to me), is understanding it. To be able to appreciate how people thought at that time, is really a hard thing to get. My grandfather on my father’s side was a really tough disciplinarian by today’s standards, but in his day my grandfather was right there with many of his peers of his day. Pointing out the hatred America had developed for it’s enemies is an understatement. Part of the propaganda of that period, was aimed at whipping up that hatred. People didn’t care, they just wanted the enemy dead, at any cost. So, while many generals and politicians may have had some angst over using the bomb, I don’t think the decision to use it was that much of a problem. You are correct when you point out how devastating the fire bombing campaigns were. I think I would rather have been destroyed with an Atom bomb, as opposed to being set on fire. Seriously, there weren’t to many good choices when it came to dying. Trying to think like they did in the past is a really hard thing to capture. Besides all of that, since we had invented the Atom bomb, it became just a matter of time to when we would use it. If it had not been used to end the war with Japan, it may have been used maybe let’s say in Korea. In other words, once the science was there, it was just a matter of time until we would use it. We could possibly agree to how regretful it was that we did drop the A-Bomb on Japan, but better still we could aim our conversations to how we should disarm our nukes we have with us today. Peace!

  3. Hillary
    July 16, 2015 at 21:42

    The report that the United States most likely has been responsible since WWII for the deaths of between 20 and 30 million people in wars and conflicts scattered over the world.


    • Joe Tedesky
      July 18, 2015 at 01:38

      Hillary, your comment here provoked me (in a curious way) to google…
      since ww2 how many killed due to US involvement…. After a quick read of some of the statistical data, I came to the conclusion the problem maybe in our nations DNA culture. We are an invader since we arrived, and we went international somewhere around 1890. Some would say, it’s time for a change. BTW, your 20 30 million maybe low. I have heard somewhere over this last few months a number as high as 60 million. In the end it’s all about spreading that free-dumb stuff all around! All this, when they all loved us for our rock & roll!

  4. Joe L.
    July 16, 2015 at 16:06

    When it comes to the dropping of the atomic bombs, I have read numerous times that it was unnecessary with even the major Generals and Admirals admitting that it was unnecessary. Furthermore, Walter Trohan of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article on August 19, 1945 which recounts a 40 page peace bid by Japan which was delivered to Roosevelt in January 1945 – the very same conditions that were accepted for the surrender of Japan in August/September of 1945. The other sad thing that came out of the dropping of the atomic bombs was a Cold War and arms race which leads us to this over-militarized, warmongering world that we live in today.

    Chicago Tribune: “Bare Peace Bid U.S. Rebuffed 7 Months Ago” (August 19, 1945):

    “Washington, D.C., Aug. 18’ – Release of censorship restrictions in the United States makes it possible to announce that Japan’s first peace bid was relayed to the White House seven months ago.

    Two days before the late President Roosevelt left for the Yalta conference with Prime Minister Churchill and Dictator Stalin, he received a Japanese offer identical with the terms subsequently concluded by his successor, President Truman.

    The Jap offer, based on five separate peace overtures, was relayed to the White House by Gen. MacArthur in a 40 page communication. The American commander, who had just returned triumphantly to Bataan, urged negotiations on the basis of the Jap overtures.”


    I visited Hiroshima a few years ago and this is something that never should have happened. At the Museum there you can see shadows burned into stone and photos of the people who suffered from radiation sickness and the horrible deaths that undertook them. Ironically, at the time after dropping the atomic bombs, the US even tried to cover up the fact of atomic radiation with the New York Times even writing a story denying that any radiation even existed. The US government even went as far as to confiscate movies made by the Japanese documenting the radiation poisoning and classified these videos for 20 to 30 years. What an awful point in history this was and I suggest that everyone go here and see what war really does to people.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 16, 2015 at 18:46


      No point of rehashing the last discussion about this. That those “overtures” were worthless was one reason I referenced the “amateur” peacemakers in my earlier post.

      A bunch of Japanese guys with zero authority to negotiate anything managed to get themselves on record. Totally meaningless stuff, and everybody knew it.

      But their effort have been mighty useful to modern revisionists.

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 19:14

        Yeah, no sense rehashing anything yet you still felt compelled to write a message to my links. Of course, they’re worthless because obviously the whole 40 page communication which was given to President Roosevelt “himself” of the “exact” surrender terms offered by Japan after the dropping of the atomic bombs in January 1945 was “faked” and Walter Trohan simply waited until after the censorship restrictions in the US were lifted to write about this “fake” information. I mean it not like many of the Generals and Admirals of the time also support the “fact” that Japan was trying to surrender well before the dropping of the atomic bombs and said it was “unnecessary”. But hey, the US never does anything wrong and of course we should all be cheering the dropping of the atomic bombs. Maybe we should cheer Agent Orange as well resulting in deformations of people in Vietnam to this day OR using depleted uranium in Iraq also causing cancer and birth defects for the people of Fallujah OR giving people in Guatemala STD’s OR overthrowing democratic governments such as Iran 1953 onward OR training 11 Latin American Dictators at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. Hurrah! Give me a break!

        Seems to me that you simply want to wave the flag and discount anything that tarnishes it – like I have pointed out before “patriotism” above “logic”. The US has done many atrocious things in war or to go to war, I believe the US has been at war for something like 91% of its’ history, and the dropping of the atomic bombs is just another one of atrocious things amongst a very LONG list.

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 19:31

        Institute for Historical Review:

        It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan’s efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war.

        In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan’s article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

        This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 — that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

        1) Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.

        2) Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
        Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.

        3) Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.

        4) Release of all prisoners of war and internees.

        5) Surrender of designated war criminals.

        Is this memorandum authentic? It was supposedly leaked to Trohan by Admiral William D. Leahy, presidential Chief of Staff. (See: M. Rothbard in A. Goddard, ed., Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader [1968], pp. 327f.) Historian Harry Elmer Barnes has related (in “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,” National Review, May 10, 1958):

        The authenticity of the Trohan article was never challenged by the White House or the State Department, and for very good reason. After General MacArthur returned from Korea in 1951, his neighbor in the Waldorf Towers, former President Herbert Hoover, took the Trohan article to General MacArthur and the latter confirmed its accuracy in every detail and without qualification.

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 20:16

        General Dwight Eisenhower:

        During his [Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”

        “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing … I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon,” Eisenhower said in 1963.

        Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman:

        It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

        General MacArthur:

        “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender. She was defeated before either these events took place.”

        Admiral Ernest King:

        “the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials.”

        General Curtis LeMay:

        “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.”

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 20:19

        US Strategic Bombing Survey:

        The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms …

        The mission of the Suzuki government, appointed 7 April 1945, was to make peace. An appearance of negotiating for terms less onerous than unconditional surrender was maintained in order to contain the military and bureaucratic elements still determined on a final Bushido defense, and perhaps even more importantly to obtain freedom to create peace with a minimum of personal danger and internal obstruction. It seems clear, however, that in extremis the peacemakers would have peace, and peace on any terms. This was the gist of advice given to Hirohito by the Jushin in February, the declared conclusion of Kido in April, the underlying reason for Koiso’s fall in April, the specific injunction of the Emperor to Suzuki on becoming premier which was known to all members of his cabinet …

        Negotiations for Russia to intercede began the forepart of May 1945 in both Tokyo and Moscow. Konoye, the intended emissary to the Soviets, stated to the Survey that while ostensibly he was to negotiate, he received direct and secret instructions from the Emperor to secure peace at any price, notwithstanding its severity …

        It seems clear … that air supremacy and its later exploitation over Japan proper was the major factor which determined the timing of Japan’s surrender and obviated any need for invasion.

        Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945 [the date of the planned American invasion], Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 20:28

        Maybe you need to take a trip to Hiroshima, as I have, and visit the Museum there which recounts the horror of the bombs along with the suffering people endured from the “radiation” and tell the people of Hiroshima what a “blessing” it was. What an ignorant statement, if I ever heard one!

      • Joe L.
        July 16, 2015 at 20:38

        I am a grown man and when I went through that museum in Hiroshima and came out the other side, I had to turn my head because I had tears in my eyes. Seeing shadows of people burned into stone, clothing from dead children or just regular people, seeing photos of people suffering from radiation poisoning, through all of the stages, ultimately leading to their horrific deaths, seeing a city completely wiped off the map except for remnants of a few buildings etc. and even all of this is supposedly “sanitized” according to my wife of what was on display before at the museum. Yet you say that this was a “blessing”, what the hell is wrong with you?

        If you have such an ignorant view then maybe it is well past time for you to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki for yourself.

        • Joe Tedesky
          July 16, 2015 at 23:31

          I learned a lot from reading your comments. Well done!

          • Joe L.
            July 17, 2015 at 10:47

            You are welcome! I guess I get a little hot under the collar when I hear someone trying to justify the use of the atrocious atomic bombs when there is so much evidence that they were “unnecessary”. Hearing someone say the atomic bombs were a “blessing” just gets my blood boiling since I have visited Hiroshima. I implore anyone who thinks that war is a good idea or certain weapons are a good idea or maybe just anyone in general to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki and it puts the true “human” cost of war into perspective – the flag waving for war is a bunch of BS.

          • Joe L.
            July 17, 2015 at 10:50

            The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum:

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 17, 2015 at 11:48

            Joe L. I truly can feel your pain. Also, I must confess, I am somewhere in between your argument and Zachary’s. War changes all the rules of a decent and civil society. You know that, but consider what choices the decision makers had at the time. If any Japanese peace alternative made prior to us dropping the A-Bombs were available, then our ignoring these peace offerings is beyond regrettable. If the Japanese surrender was something not to take serious for good reason, then possibly the decision to use the A-Bomb was not the best decision, but still it was a decision. I stated how Marshall calculated we would lose 30,000 troops, not one million. Yet, a decision maker in a time of war would probably favor killing many many more of the enemy, as opposed to losing even one of our own. It’s war, where all the rules are different. You make a strong argument Joe L., but Zachary also makes (in my mind) good points. Hind sight is awesome, and sometimes unfair when judging the pass. Given how documents, and memoirs come forth over time, this gives us a much clearer view of things over what most people would have known at its time. There can be no right answer to this historical calamity. Yes, I to wish America had never dropped those bombs. If we had used a troop invasion instead, would we now be sorry for losing so many dads and uncles? Would we regret killing so many Japanese civilians anyway? What we should all talk about, is how to disarm all nuclear armed nations. Talk about it now!

          • Joe L.
            July 17, 2015 at 13:56

            Well for me there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that Japan was ready to surrender, I believe first starting in late 1944 and continually onward almost right up to the dropping of the atomic bombs – the major sticking point seemed to be “unconditional” surrender and the Emperor (which was ultimately accepted and the same as the peace bid in January 1945). Much of the major military heads of the time also believe that the atomic bombs were “unnecessary” – I am sure that is not just hindsight but how they felt at the time. My feeling is that the US spent a ton of money on developing the atomic bombs and were going to use them regardless as a demonstration to the Soviet Union of American domination in the world rather then saving 30,000 lives or 1,000,000 lives. No one can tell me that the US has conscience, so it could not have possibly used the atomic bombs for political and economic gains throughout the world, when history proves all of the atrocious things the US government has done over and over again – even to this day using depleted uranium in weapons (nuclear waste which will effect the population where these weapons are used for decades to come) and trying to cover up a mysterious “Gulf War Syndrome”. Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an experiment and a demonstration – that is truly my belief…

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 17, 2015 at 23:12

            Joe L., I must say you are very convincing. I do agree that Truman delivered those bombs, as more of a message to the Russians, than a tool for the Japanese surrender. I am not sure that at that time most people would have recognized that scaring the Russians was the real reason for the why of it, but as you pointed out, that was the why of it. Nice having this conversation with you Joe L.

  5. Zachary Smith
    July 16, 2015 at 12:15

    The earliest articles about evil America using evil atomic bombs have started to appear, so it must be almost August.

    The site of the detonation of this plutonium bomb was to become blasphemously known as the Trinity Site after Trinity

    Back then it was the custom to provide a military event/operation a name which, if the enemy encountered it, wouldn’t give away any secrets. Oppenheimer used a poem by John Donne as his inspiration for the name. In any event, some of us actually are monotheists and rather resent the “blasphemy” stuff.

    Despite the certainty that Japan was trying to find a way to surrender with honor…

    That’s a constant refrain of the Annual Authors – it’s a neat way to bowdlerize the fact that Japan had lost WW2, but was still trying to end the war on its own terms in such a way that it could define it as a ‘win’ in future years.

    This is an eerie echo of what the Confederates were doing at the end of the US Civil War. They’d been thoroughly trounced, but to the final days tried to turn it into a ‘win’. From a piece about some of those efforts:

    Several “amateur peace negotiators,” as the New York Herald referred to them, during the winter of 1864–1865 offered their services to bring the two sides together. In the beginning, Lincoln kept a discreet distance from these movements.[10] By far the most important of the peacemaking efforts was that of seventy-three-year-old Francis Preston Blair, Sr., a prominent political editor of the Jacksonian era. On December 28, Blair, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, met with the president to secure a pass through Union lines to visit Richmond. Ostensibly, the trip would be made to retrieve personal papers seized by General Jubal Early’s forces in their July raid on Washington. Lincoln granted the pass but in their meeting abruptly stopped Blair when he attempted to describe his reasons for going to Richmond. The president understood that if the mission failed he did not want to find himself in the position, as had occurred after the fiasco of the Niagara conference, during the summer of 1864, of having sanctioned a fruitless and embarrassing peace attempt.

    The brighter Rebels realized that if they could get an extended armistice, the war would likely end with a definite victory for them. The Union would remain busted, the Confederacy would become a reality, and slavery would not end. Fortunately, Lincoln and the rest of the Union leadership didn’t ‘bite’. And the memory of WW1 ending on vague terms deterred the Allies from letting the Japanese write their own ‘surrender’ document.

    A military colleague of Groves, Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Nichols, considered Groves “the biggest sonafabitch I’ve ever met.”

    It’s not nice to truncate quotations without indicating you’ve done so. The rest of that remark goes like this: “in my life, but also one of the most capable individuals.”

    That “drill sergeant brutality” approach also works temporarily when K-9 dogs are tortured in training until they become sufficiently vicious to attack any victim that is fingered by their trainers.

    This effort to implicate General Groves as a dog-torturer is really crazy stuff. (as is the fat-shaming stuff about his being obese and a chocolate addict as somehow related to his obvious depravity) And naturally the dog claim is without any kind of documentary support. I made a quick search to see if I could find anything in the WW2-era records.


    Now this might be ‘feel-good’ wartime propaganda, but IMO it’s Dr. Kohl’s job to provide evidence that US Army dogs of the era were mistreated. And that high-ranking perverts like Groves were involved.


    Finally, I must suggest some reading for Dr. Kohls and others like him.


    It’s an inexpensive book available only in paperback which tells what the US was doing prior to the A-bombs. Read it, THEN tell me that the war-ending A-bombs weren’t a blessing for both the US and Japan. Those fire-bombings were much more horrible that the A-bombings. And worse was yet to come – both the chemical and biological weapons were ready, and Roosevelt’s death would have greased the skids for their use.

    • MarkU
      July 18, 2015 at 10:39

      “it’s a neat way to bowdlerize the fact that Japan had lost WW2, but was still trying to end the war on its own terms in such a way that it could define it as a ‘win’ in future years.”

      Absolutely pathetic.

      The only sticking point in the Japanese terms of surrender was their insistence on retaining their head of state, after they had been nuked, that condition was conceded to them anyway.

  6. Abe
    July 16, 2015 at 11:31

    The Danger of Nuclear War
    By Michel Chossudovsky

    The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. US-NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”.

    Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”.

    The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

    Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

    The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

    Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.

    Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force.

    When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered.

    Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust.

  7. Joe Tedesky
    July 16, 2015 at 10:52

    Once again I am impressed with George Marshall. Marshall reported to Truman that Operation Downfall (the invasion of Japan) would mean the loss of 30,000 troops. Although, Truman pumped the deceased list up every time he was asked. Well, maybe not every time, but enough that these numbers have inflated to as many as one million troops killed. Besides, Marshall being reluctant to use the atom bomb, he also was against recognizing Israel as a state. Marshall argued to Truman that the U.S. would do better to throw this decision to the U.N.. Truman of course was swayed by Clark Clifford and the Israeli 2 million dollar campaign donation for 1948 presidential run, and the rest is history.

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