What If The USA Had Used No Nuclear Weapons In 1945?

Old wisdom: Hiroshima was a terrible thing. New wisdom: Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the shots needed to cure Japan swiftly, and with the least pain, releasing the world from the pain Japanese fascist military madness had wrought. Millions were saved. The atomic bombings were expiatory sacrifices to the gods of war, that civilization had to make. 

Master Kong (“Confucius”) believed that, if one acted with benevolence, everything would be best. Benevolence means “good will”. There is the little problem of determining what “good” is. That was the province of virtuous men. And so on. So-called  “Virtue Ethics” was invented in Greece at the same time, and is viewed to this day as a great invention by some Western philosophers, who paid to exhibit moral pretense, of the type fully compatible with unhinged plutocracy (that’s why they are paid). The founders of virtue ethics in the West are Plato and Aristotle, those adulated great destroyers of democracy (this is why Aristo-Platonism survived, as their evil teaching served the fascist regimes of the next 2,000 years).

It is of course going around in circle, defining “good” as what “virtuous” men do, and “virtue” as what does ”good”. In truth, most men and women believe they are doing good. Even Hitler, Stalin, and their ilk, thought they were doing good. Rare are those doing bad, with in mind terrible ends (that was Hitler, when he had been punished long enough to become half-mad).

Badness, evil, don’t have to be global, and apparently gratuitous, they can be local, and unfortunately necessary. When Churchill ordered the destruction of the French fleet at Mers El Kebir, he knew he was doing real bad, but in a context which made the treacherous atrocity part of a global picture which was better that way. The global picture was that Churchill wanted to show the world that even allies, friends and colleagues (in this case French naval personnel) would be destroyed, if in the way of victory in the slightest. The same subjacent moral calculus also stood below Hiroshima and Nagasaki (as behind the annihilation of Dresden and its ilk): anything standing in the way of righteousness will be annihilated. This is why we had no great power war for 62 years, for the first time in 3,000 years.  

Evil can happen by happenstance. Churchill didn’t know is that his suggestion that the French fleet could remove itself to the West Indies had not been transmitted to the French admirals. Oops.

Should Great Britain excuse itself for Mers El Kebir? Not really, but excuses should have been presented for not transmitting the proposition of letting the French fleet escape to the Antilles (where the fleet would have been nominally under Vichy control, thus respecting the ceasefire with the Nazis; such excuses probably were presented between officers, as the French and British sailors have long been in very close contact, before and after Mers El Kebir)

Apology is a path to understanding. Understanding, in full, and only in full, is more important than apologizing. Roughly all history textbooks, anywhere have to be re-written, so that they can give birth t understanding in full, to the best of our present knowledge.

Evil is in the details. If one wants to be moral, one has to plunge in the details. Hiroshima is an examination of one’s moral compass. The question is not whether one can claim to be a Hiroshima lover or not, but whether one has enough moral power to plunge in the details.

The way the Hiroshima bombing is mis-analyzed reflects the way the civilization’s bombing campaign against ISIS, or, for that matter, Nazism, have been misinterpreted.

The allegation by one commenter on this site has been made that the two nuclear bombs used over Japan were “the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning?) of Western (US) moral supremacy.” Actually, West European mainstream morality, and even mentality rules the United Nations, and, to a great extent China. So it smacks more of an apotheosis than an end. Why? As Gandhi said about Western civilization: it would be an excellent idea

Considering my preceding essay on the way to peace through truth, Purasuchikku accuses me of “Schoolboy textbook interpretation of what marked the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning?) of Western (US) moral supremacy. Color me disappointed.

Really, the US was well aware (Japanese diplomatic cables were systematically decrypted) that by June 1945, following the fall of Okinawa, the Japanese intended to seek peace, sending ambassadors to Stalin (Captain Hindsight would laugh at that one) and other neutral countries to broker negotiations. This diplomatic effort was too little, too late: half of the Supreme Council members were still hardcore f****wits bent on the “victory or death” strategy and hindered the pro-peace endeavors of Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo and the Emperor (yes).”

However, another commenter, Gmax, pointed out to Purasuchikku that “20,000 people were dying each day the war was going on. So the bombs killed 10 days worth of war. You forget Japan was busy killing half of China everyday.” (I said so myself in past essays; I will reconstitute a quick reasoning justifying this number below.)

Strategic bombing, or any sort of bombing, or war, is a grim occupation democracies  sometimes find themselves into. Precisely because they are democracies. Precisely because, if one does not violently oppose the Dark Side, the Dark Side will triumph. This is what “pacifists” of the simplest sort, and Confucius failed to grasp. Confucius was wrong about his hope that “benevolence” would solve all. Was the Munich conference of 1938, when Great Britain persuaded France and Czechoslovakia not to fight off Hitler, benevolent? Benevolent, for whom?

When confronted to a bear, or a hostile human group, prehistoric men couldn’t not have turned the other cheek, because otherwise, we won’t be here. Twice I killed extremely lethal snakes attacking me, and I had once a Homeric fight with a bear, who had charged me deliberately to steal my backpack (as was his habit). The fight ended when the beast got hit by a very large stone propelled at a significant speed. Three weeks later, the same bear gravely injured a grandmother, and was shot dead by rangers.  

Human beings have a predatory side, which defines mayhem as benevolence: that’s what Master Kong didn’t know, and Plato and Aristotle affected to ignore, as they were tops of the most exploitative elites (they were like various Stalins’ boyfriends)

All together, Japan probably killed 42 million people between 1937 and 1945 (latest numbers). That’s a rate of six million a year. Moreover, most of these people died of exposure, disease and malnutrition (same thing as the average Japanese soldier). One also has to keep in mind that the rate of death accelerated, as disorganization accelerated. In Europe, around ten million people got killed in the last six months of the war. In any case the rate of death was at least 2 millions in three months (20,000 killed a day).

So what happened with the bombs? All in all, including radiation sickness and malnutrition, less than 250,000 people got killed. More exactly, between 129,000 and 226,000 people died, half of them on the first day. In Hiroshima an important garrison was devastated, and 20,000 Japanese soldiers died (a legitimate military objective under any interpretation of the laws of war). The Nagasaki bomb was more powerful, but the ground was hilly, and quite a few people practiced “duck and cover”, after learning of Hiroshima (hide under and lay flat after the flash).

As I said, hours after Nagasaki, the pro-war party collapsed: emperor HiroHito used to be pro-war, he became thoroughly against it.

One has to know the history of Japan: the Mongols, at the time they owned China, landed in Japan twice. They were contained by the Samurai after landing. The Samurai took effective defensive position behind walls of stones they erected, etc. Ultimately, thanks in part of “divine wind”, kamikaze, the Mongols went down to the bottom of the ocean.

Truman: “A quarter of a million of our young manhood was worth a couple of Japanese cities… I asked General George Marshall how much the invasion of Japan would cost in lives… he told me at least a quarter of a million casualties on our side, and up to a million, and as much for the enemy” [not counting civilian losses, which were a majority at Okinawa]  

The Japanese High Command was hell-bent to revisiting the notion. The US landing in Okinawa had been very costly, including to the propagandized civilian population which often seemed more interested by death than surrender. The US domination in conventional weaponry was not so great that the US could afford a very costly landing. Kamikaze and other furious air attacks off Okinawa had been costly. A fleet carrier such as the Enterprise was very heavily damaged, and would have sunk with such damage earlier in the war. However, the US had become experts at saving their carriers. The Enterprise went to repairs. The US had many escort carriers, but few fleet carriers.

Just on one (of many) underground base west of Tokyo, the malevolent Japanese military had stored 5,000 planes, fully intent to use them during an attempted US landing (with suicide pilots in various states of unpreparedness). The chief of the Japanese army wrote a vibrant poem where he extolled the beauty of 100 million flowers being cut (namely most of the Japanese).

So now suppose there had been no nuclear bomb. The war would have gone on.  The US would not have landed in 1945. Meanwhile, Stalin would have conquered China. Indeed the invasion of Manchuria by the Soviets, a double pincer the Japanese had not anticipated, turned, in a few days, in a rout for the Japanese. Around 100,000 Japanese soldiers died, the Soviets conquered northern China, and half of Korea.

As Wikipedia puts it:

Many Japanese settlers committed mass suicide as the Soviet army approached. Mothers were forced by Japanese military[21][22] to kill their own children before killing or being killed themselves. The Japanese army often took part in the killings of its civilians. The commander of the 5th Japanese Army, General Shimizu, commented that “each nation lives and dies by its own laws.” Wounded Japanese soldiers who were incapable of moving on their own were often left to die as the army retreated.[22]

The sense of civilization Japan had at the time was in need of a serious evolution. Even the fascists at the helm knew this.  When the Japanese Navy conducted a suicide attack on Okinawa, led by super battleship Yamato, the Navy High Command ordered the sailors to try to save themselves, if their ship sank, because there was a Japan to defend and rebuild. Saving oneself when defeated in war was contrary to bushido, the Japanese military honor code.

I write a lot of very nasty things about a lot of US presidents. Because they did very nasty things. However, some didn’t. Similarly in France: I despise, and retroactively condemn with utmost severity a lot of the leaders there. However, some shine. And even some who did terrible things shine. Because they did terrible things because they had to.

Clovis, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Philippe le Bel and Clemenceau come to mind in France: they all did terrible things (even deliberate spiritual cleansing of the ethnic type, in the case of Charlemagne), but for very good reasons, and they changed history for the best. Some did fantastic things, such as Queen Bathilde (outlawing slavery; fostering education), without having to be nasty, right. They were lucky.

Truman did the right thing. The terrible, right thing (a student had dissuaded the war minister to atom bomb Kyoto, on the ground of saving architectural beauty…)

There is no truth without context, in pure logic as in history, and this is true for moral truth too.

The context of Hiroshima is that the fascist Japanese military government had been on a war rampage for 14 years.It had to be stopped, and stopped fast.  The Japanese people had been unable to stop it (although they tried in 1937, their violence was not up to snuff). Killing the Japanese military meant killing the Japanese war production, thus killing the cities, because that’s where the production was.  

Meanwhile the Chinese were dying by the millions every year. Stalin had a solution: turning China into North Korea (the Chinese Communists actually protested, in vain, about Soviet methods in China).

Another commenter on this site, Eugen R also pointed out to Purasuchikku that:Japan still occupied most of East Asia including big parts of China. Japan under pretext of defending Asia from the European imperialism implemented its own imperialistic policy, using unprecedented atrocities against the local population. Do not forget also Japan’s alliance with the Nazi Germany a horrible crime by itself. If the US would have had atomic bombs to drop on Berlin at 1942, most of the victims of WWII would have been saved…”


Fortunately, the bombs were dropped in August 1945, preventing Japan to go the way of Nazi Germany, and killing another few dozens of millions of people.

And what of Master Kong’s philosophy of benevolence? Five centuries after the “sage’s” death, the extremely experienced emperor and very learned scholar Wan Mang implemented Confucianism fiercely. Results? First nothing. Then a flood. Abominable civil war broke all over China. Peasant armies rose, plutocrat led armies rose. The emperor ended besieged in his capital, after considering setting up an air force (the head would be flier-engineer  died in a crash, after an all too significant flight). The capital was seized, the emperor was dismembered. The Han dynasty was re-established.

Thereafter, Confucianism stayed an idea, not a method of governance.

All religions are about everything. But some religions are also more about killing people, or setting up the mood to kill people (war being a way to sustain some civilization; yet it can be done to excess: consider Assyria).

Examples are the Aztec religion, the Punic religion, the Celtic religion, Islam (original version) etc. And also what was de facto the Japanese religion in the 1930s, a nationalist cult, mixing Shinto with bushido and their ilk, creating a de facto racist cocktail. The Aztec, Punic and Celtic cultures’ rules were annihilated, greatly because of their lethal, hyper-violent Zeitgeist.

Japan escaped that fate. In no small part because the crazed military fascists at the head of Japan got short-circuited big time on August 10, 1945. Thanks to the sacrifice of up to 226,000 Japanese who got atom bombed. They should be thanked and grimly remembered as sacrifices we, as a civilization, had to make.

The famous religions, some of them stoking hatred and superstition, are ways to tie people together again. They are all obsolete. The planet is creaking. Surely,  it’s time to tie people together again, by studying how we got there. Study history, people, make that into the new religion! You will find it addictive, even better than the old stuff.

Studying history, for real and in full would have wondrous effects in the places dominated by Islam, or in the fight against global plutocracy leading us to extinction.

You don’t want war? Create the contexts for peace. That requires no more lies. Not lying is not sufficient, but it is necessary, to dismantle evil contexts. One can’t use things known to be false as a basis for justice, thus a sustainable society.

Patrice Ayme’

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10 Responses to “What If The USA Had Used No Nuclear Weapons In 1945?”

  1. SDM Says:

    What we have now is the brutality applied for maintaining empire abroad coming home to roost. Unending wars, militarized police, loss of liberty, privatizing of the public commons, undoing labor rights, mandatory patriotism, a cowed and ineffective press, and other assorted methods to enforce a neoliberal corporate plutocratic empire. Historical context needed and fast – we the people could use all that we can get.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Macron in France got a platoon of plutos to band together against climate change, they claim… Eerie: Bloomberg, Gates, Schwarzenegger, Branson, among others… At least child sex abuse judge Moore was beaten in Alabama… A ray of hope… Sex abuser judges are a real problem (I am front line implicated in one case). Unbelievable stuff. Mention the word “harassment”, they drive you out of the courtroom…. So I enjoy Moore’s discomfiture…


  2. SDM Says:

    Nuclear weapons are a turning point in human history that has yet to be played out. The only nation to use them is the good old US of A.
    It was so terrifying that none have dared to do so since. The brinkmanship with NK is a cause for concern. Has madness taken control or is there some sense of survival instinct left to avert another A bomb?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Truman actually had some research conducted by independent (from the US government) institutions which concluded that atom bombs would save lives in the war with Japan. They did, the evidence is incontrovertible. I am not particularly in love with Truman, and pretty much detest not so cordially the FDR administration (not for its reforms of 1933, but for its anti-French attitude thereafter; that boiled down to a pro-Hitler attitude artfully covered up by an anti-Hitler discourse). FDR was a genuine pluto, but he saved the system.

      That there has not been nuclear war is pretty much because none of the powers which are permanent members of the UNSC have interest to engage in any serious war. Nor does Israel, nor India. However crazed Jihadists could well start a nuke war. I said that forever, and my friend Obama took to repeating it like a well trained parrot. Then Obama discovered North Korea, and he didn’t know what to do. In Pakistan, Jihadists are NOT in power. Or, at least, not yet. Hopefully the US has understood the danger. But that means the US has to make sure Iran, which is Shite, doesn’t get nukes. In NK, the guy in power is in danger of being served, he and his wife, as live sushi, any day. Understandably, he prefers the prospect of nuclear war to that of being tortured to death…

      If I were Trump, I would make Kim an offer he can’t refuse. But Trump, or whoever is in the WH has first to get Xi to agree to the strategy… And China has its own war distraction with the South China sea. This is part of the sort of imbriglio which led to WWI (although the main reason was the German plutocracy war computation… I don’t think China is that dumb, considering its history, which the Chinese can also consider, and, DIFFERENTLY from fascist racist Germany, China has caught the wind of history, swelling nicely its sails…)


  3. purasuchikku Says:

    Dear Patrice,

    All my thanks for the detailed reply, and sorry for the delay in mine. I truly appreciate the time and dedication you put into your blog, and how debate is kept civil and thought-stimulating.

    The mention of West’s “moral superiority” was of course ironic. While moral values share common characteristics in all societies (Levi-Strauss…), they cannot be assessed on a comparative basis. Just as it is impossible to establish a ranking of mythologies, religions or languages, based on imagined merits or demerits. Perhaps “moral posturing” would have been a better term.

    This feeling of moral superiority of the West came from a long philosophical tradition that started, and I fully agree with you, with Plato and his artificially sweetened (or maybe, skillfully circumvented) metaphysics. In a radical split with pre-Socratic and Eastern thinkers, a twisted reasoning and argumentation made equivalences between truth and just/ illusion and unfair universal, and put ethics, politics and science in the same idealized perspective. Once incorporated into the Semitic (Jewish and Western Christian) shaker of reality denial and self-imposed guilt, idealism and extreme rationalism ran unhindered, to the point where a New Man emerged as cause and effect, as beginning and end of everything. This process is called Modernity, and was too good for the West to keep to itself: it ought to be exported everywhere as a universal model.

    Once initiated, there is no coming back, but only expansion forward: everything has to be measurable, comparable, with a belief that this is Progress, leading us to a better world. Everything has to be visible, transparent, rationally justified. It something doesn’t fit this grid of values, it is deemed irrelevant, obsolete or simply unfair. Even if it means stripping down your own values, your own secret, your own vital illusion.

    It is interesting you make the parallel with Confucius and Plato & Co., and it is true that there are a lot of similarities to be found in the collusion of moral and politics in their views. Yet with a crucial difference: in Confucius’ world, the living honor their dead ancestors and thus acknowledge and exorcize their own mortality. An impregnable secret remains, a darkness (death) that will always remain out of man’s reach. Where the West wants to tear away the shroud that appears to veil things and hinder rationality’s effort to find a meaning to everything, the East polishes it, nurtures it as the core element that defines civilization.

    Still, as you mentioned very well in your post, Confucius’ greatest failing is his pretention to erect a political system out of this moral system, not unlike Aristotle’s ethics (the latter was at least more nuanced and realistic, making a crucial distinction between good and just). In other words, our bearded Chinese master was as idealistic as his Greek’s contemporary. Idealism is the root of all evil.

    Lao Zi, the great contemporary of Confucius, had not political views, but a more resigned (and much wiser) vision of morality and the nature of human beings in groups. “As soon as beauty is known by the world as beautiful, it becomes ugly. As soon as virtue is being known as something good, it becomes evil.”

    On the issue of the bomb itself, there is no arguing that Japan behaved in the most horrible manner during the conflict, especially in Manchuria. Its systematic use of torture, massacres of civilians or mistreatment of POWs are all well documented, and impossible to defend. What is more troubling is the attitude of the victor: ever since it was founded, the US has seen itself as an utopia come true, a beacon towards which every civilization should strive to come close: a politico-socio-economical Parousia. God’s given ass, just like Ziggy’s. To the point that more and more, especially today, there appears to be only one civilization on this planet (truly unbelievable).

    It is this “holier than thee” attitude that is unbearable, especially when it is held (and this still continues nowadays) despite uncountable evidences of the opposite. In the case of the war against Japan, and even if it was sadly common practice at the time despite more than questionable results in terms of tactical effectiveness, carpet bombing and the razing of entire cities was largely used. The bombings of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka made far more victims than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. As Robert Mc Namara put it later, had the US not won the war, it would have stood trial for war crimes.

    The same morally ambiguous attitude can also largely explain the issue of apologies you mention: Mc Arthur’s decision to grant pardon to a majority of hardened war criminals, including crime syndicate members, biological experiment team leaders (check out Unit 731 to be truly disgusted) and the emperor, aimed at countering supposed communist ambitions, led to a de facto moral grey zone.

    There are paradigm shifts in human history. Rarely has one been as dramatic as the nuclear bomb: for the first time, human beings were able to effectively annihilate their own habitat at the push of button. As Canetti put it, the lighting of a second sun effectively ended the illusion of the real sun, the coronation of the be all – end all Modern Man. The one who has successfully “engineered” reality for this needs and desires. While the accession to atomic power can be described in the usual promethean terms, it is the decision to use this power as a political tool, in a demonstration of force that is morally condemnable. Especially when it was done in such a hurry, in such a childish manner under those circumstances.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear purasuchikku: Sorry I am so late responding, but I have been quite busy (and I have a long essay on the migrant/refugee/colonialism/plutocracy problem coming).
      The point with Plato is that, similar to Master Kong with China, he ravaged the West, and the works of both were carefully preserved for that reason. Now Plato was Pluto, whereas Master Kong was just an obscure bureaucrat in an obscure place. So, Master Kong was rather mild and meek, whereas Aristotle (gifted child of the evil psycho union between Plato and Philippe of Macedonia) was a plutocrat of maximal order.

      Aristotle basically justified and launched 2,400 years of plutocracy, and counting:

      So Plato and Aristotle are not really “the West”. Rather their undertakers. And Socrates a confused insect.
      The real power of the “West”, namely on the West Side of the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Pamirs, Tien Shan, was in the Egypto-Sumero-Phoenician engineering of the alphabet, in the science behind Democritus and his ilk. In the discovery by Egyptians of basic geometry including the “Pythagorean” theorem. In the invention of Greco-Indian numerals and the zero. In the Atomic Theory, complete with “Brownian” motion, or the first computers, and the explanation of the seasons by the obliquity of the Earth, going all the way back to Pytheas of Marseilles, more than 23 centuries ago.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      My understanding of the ancestor cult, Chinese style, is that there is nothing wrong with it. It’s basically honoring the spirit of one’s family, thanking those who created it, and looking forward furthering it.
      The US, in truth, has no moral standing, that’s why it’s so obsessed morally grandstanding all the time. To hide that moral implosion inside. Whereas the Bible is mostly a legend full of holocausts, the US is an holocaust full of legends.No other country rests on such a magnificent holocaust as its pedestal.

      My position on the bombs is not to say the US acted saintly (it was mostly acting efficiently, as you pointed out). My position is to say the nuclear bombings, as they exactly happened (the bomb for Sapporo, which was ready, was not activated), were the best outcome.
      The nuclear bombings were the best outcomes for China, Korea, Vietnam, and… Japan. Best outcome in the sense of minimizing civilian losses. Had the war kept on going, I don’t believe the USA would have attempted a landing on Kyushu in November: they had first to capture more Ryukyu islands, and, considering the butchery in Okinawa, public opinion would have been exasperated. Also some fleet carrier were out of commission (like the Enterprise), after being hit. Operation Olympic, the landings near Tokyo (only 8 months after conquering southern Kyushu) were not to happen before Spring 1946…

      There were only two places to land in all of Japan, and the Jap military knew this as well as the US. They had 36 million mobilized. The Allies had 6 million troops, but would have suffered millions of casualties (at least in some scenarios). At Okinawa, 2,000 kamikaze attacks were used. By July, the Jap military had 10,000 kamikaze planes (many pilots had been tricked into it, and were not happy). At Okinawa, 1/9 kamikaze hit. At Kyushu, they hoped to destroy 1/3 of the troop transports (attacking planes could hide in the mountains during approach).
      At Okinawa, 368 US ships were badly damaged, and 28 sunk…. by kamikazes.

      Some US planners were expecting half a million dead US troops (the US suffered 415,000 Killed In Action on ALL theaters in WWII…) To alleviate that, the US intended to use GAS in Kyushu. (And 15 atomic bombs behind the beaches, as the radioactivity problem was underestimated!)

      Marshall, head of the US military didn’t expect the emperor to surrender after just two bombs. He was caught flat-footed.
      So not only the nuclear bombings were good for Japan, but they were good for Hirohito, who could thereafter pose a peacemaker and wise marine scientist…


  4. Jack Says:

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