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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jon Stewart opines on Harry Truman and the A-bomb 



Cliff May was a guest on the Daily Show and posed a series of interesting questions to host Jon Stewart regarding interrogation, war and war crimes. Toggle ahead to 5:50 for the question about Truman, and Stewart's answer.

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Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
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As always, it is hard to tell whether Stewart's clown nose is off or on, but it appears to be off at that moment -- that is, he is giving a serious answer, not one intended to get laughs.

As I have posted previously, the rapid end to the War in the Pacific is personal to me, since my father's U.S. Navy warship was about to transit the Panama Canal to serve "picket duty" there -- essentially running interference for larger ships in a convoy. Would he have been one of the many anticipated casualties in the run up to the invasion of the Home Islands? I am happy things ended as they did.

I don't believe that President Truman was a "war criminal."

I don't think that this clip will make it to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.


UPDATE: Welcome to Instapundit readers. I should add that I spend a fair amount of time with nonagenarians and octogenarians, many of whom are original FDR Democrats and are still politically liberal. Without exception, all of them believe that ending the war as Truman did was the right thing to do. I think it has something to do with having skin in the game at the time, as compared to Monday (Tuesday? Wedenesday?) morning quarterbacking.

CWCID: Hot Air

68 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 29, 11:25:00 PM:

Geez, I'm sick of this constant revisionism and vilification of President Truman. We have gone over and over this. Jon Stewart is very good at what he does. I like his show. But in this instance he is a complete and utter ass.

Prior to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, millions of leaflets were dropped on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and other Japanese cities warning them that unless they agreed to immediate unconditional surrender, a horrific weapon was going to be used on Japanese cities resulting in their prompt and utter destruction. It asked everyone to leave the identified cities. Even after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese government still would not agree to surrender. Since that is so, why does anyone think dropping a "demonstration" bomb on an island near Japan would have made them surrender? It should also be noted that even after two atomic bombs and the USSR entering the war against Japan, it still almost didn’t end.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed Apr 29, 11:36:00 PM:

I have an uncle that was a B-29 pilot. Shot down over Japan. POW. After the war he discovered that the order to execute him was rescinded after the Nagasaki bomb was dropped. He missed execution by a day, thanks to the A-Bomb.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Wed Apr 29, 11:50:00 PM:

Feeblemind - That's a very close call. Good family story, almost belongs in a movie plot line. Thanks.  

By Blogger buck smith, at Thu Apr 30, 12:37:00 AM:

I figure those atom bombs probably saved Japan. If they had not surrendered after the A-bombs, Curtis Lemay might have set every square inch of Japan on fire at once.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Thu Apr 30, 02:03:00 AM:

The 'movie' doesn't end their E-81. All our family knew was that he was MIA. When my uncle was freed and aboard the hospital ship, he happened to run into an AP reporter. He was very anxious to get word home that he was alive. The Red Cross and Army would notify the family, but in those days, as you know, it took time. Anyway, the AP reporter took his name and put the story out on the wire and a local radio station picked it up. My Dad was jerking sodas in my Grandpa's drug store (if you have seen the drug store in 'It's a Wonderful Life', you have a good idea how it looked.) when a customer burst in the store and asked Granpa if Lt. so and so was his son-in-law. Grandpa said yes and the customer said it just came over the radio that he had been a POW and was now safe on a hospital ship. Grandpa immediately called my aunt, who had just had a baby about a week earlier. When Grandpa told her the news, she just said, "oh." in a flat voice. Then she dropped the phone receiver and started sobbing. Grandma was staying with her and immediately picked up the phone expecting terrible news and it turned out to be just the opposite. My aunt had been very depressed and was not healing up very fast after the delivery of the baby, but after the phone call, everything changed and she healed up quickly. They are both still alive. She is in good health, but he has dementia and numerous ailments related to being a POW. He was only a POW for about 90 days, but he lost 90 lbs in that time.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Thu Apr 30, 09:06:00 AM:

My father-in-law was a Marine, 3rd Division and was scheduled to hit the beach near Nagaski. President Truman saved his life, and the leftists in Hollywood think that is criminal. Who's side is Jon Stewart on?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 09:14:00 AM:

Jon Stewart had to call Truman a war criminal over Hiroshima-Nagasaki, else he'd have lost the debate. QED.

A similar tactic from the left is to force debate over whether waterboarding is or isn't torture. If you admit it is, then waterboarding gets lumped in with far worse tortures -- you lose the debate. But by saying it isn't, you look disingenuous or worse.

I'm convinced waterboarding keeps coming up, because the left enjoys playing this rhetorical game. Waterboarding is a small sideshow in the scheme of things -- it's small "t" torture, didn't happen a lot, and many of us would wish far worse things upon guys like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Obama has dredged it up to make himself look good -- especially with his base -- and as a distraction from more momentous things that are going on.

Hiroshima-Nagasaki

The US had already firebombed Tokyo with a higher loss of life than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The US had also firebombed about 70 other Japanese cities. Without the A-bomb drops, Curtis LeMay would have lit up all of Japan -- conventionally -- by the time of an invasion, and had already made a good start. The B-29 was a remarkable plane for its time -- it ... not the A-bomb ... would have become known as the greatest single killing machine in world history.

The horror of WWII was that civilians became military targets, all over the world. In terms of "people killed" -- a gross measure, but still relevant -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't rank that high. You want "millions" and "horrific", you can't beat the Nazis. The Japanese military killed 200,000 to 300,000 civilians at Nanking alone -- and did it "retail" and often sadistically.

I'm not proud that the US nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- but it was justified and the right decision in the context of WWII.

Jon Stewart -- who I like -- is just wrong on this. Exploding an A-bomb at sea as a demonstration wouldn't have been effective. I'd even go so far as to say that the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have helped the US and Soviets steer away from actual using the damned things.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 09:16:00 AM:

Meant to sign, Anon 9:14 was Link  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 09:35:00 AM:

In our country, anyone who leads the nation to victory was a war criminal. Moral confusion is not virtue, and these sorts of reprehensible views are the former not the latter.  

By Anonymous John, at Thu Apr 30, 09:54:00 AM:

We had two bombs. They didn't surrender after #1. They did after #2.

Between #1 and #2, e.g., our total arsenal, our great uncle's sub was depth charged in the Straight of Java. The USS Bullhead, the very last ship lost in WW2, went down with all men. Overdue, Presumed lost.

Had we dropped these bombs sooner, who knows how many lives on both sides would have been saved.

Stewart is a commedian. Another talking head, reading off a teleprompter to real and canned laughter. Nothing more or less. He's good at what he does, but merits no serious debate beyond that.

The real question for old timers is ... hey pop, without shedding any details you wish to take to the grave ... did you or persons you know or witnessed do anything that would constitute a 'war crime' by today's metric? you know, robbery ... ass whippin', rape, pillage, 'coercive questioning of the enemy', the rendering of 'excessive force', or emotional or physical distress?

It's a war. One side wins. One loses. Winner writes history, per one of TH's early posts.

This game of pattycake is manure. Ask Biden or his puppet master, or one of those idiots in DC ... if it was your family or loved one's life at stake, would you or would you not go to waterboarding or selective anaesthesia-free amputation to coerce information? Or would you go for the approved method of polite questioning and tickle, up to but excluding the dreaded tickle-torture. Of course under the watchful eye of the UN and an embedded flock of AP reporters.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 09:59:00 AM:

The owners of the Comedy Channel are responsible for these kinds of ugly views, as expressed on their channel, like it or not. Celebrities can certainly feel free to spout all they want in the privacy of their own homes, or even troll around the internet to do so, but once they express these sort of muddled opinions on a TV show I think the operators of the show are responsible for either talking Stewart in off the ledge or taking full responsibility for this sort of propaganda. Words have consequences since, after, easily manipulated minds are running around out there in TV land (see, Christopher Chambers as an example).

By the way, the president is speaking similar words these days about intelligence activities. Stratfor says the impact has been immediate and deleterious on our clandestine activities, and that the CIA is now at pre 9/11 ineffectiveness. Officers have taken out personal liability insurance to protect themselves from political windstorms.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 10:49:00 AM:

horoshima drop was criminal but not nagaski? Even after the first drop, Japan still didn't surrender. It was only after the 2nd, did they surrender. So a demostration bomb wouldn't have worked  

By Blogger Anthony, at Thu Apr 30, 10:51:00 AM:

The Purple Heart my father received in Korea was originaly meant for someone in killed or wounded in the Japanese invasion.

They are STILL giving out Purple Hearts to people today originally meant for the Japanese invasion.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 10:54:00 AM:

When was the last time anyone taught in American schools that the American territory of the Philippines, already scheduled for independence, was occupied and the citizens butchered. How deep is the sack of Manila buried in history -

http://battlingbastardsbataan.com/som.htm

How buried are the actions of the Japanese leadership that ordered its own civilians to die on Saipan and Okinawa rather than be captured by Americans and prepared their own population on the home islands to do the same.  

By Blogger jcr, at Thu Apr 30, 10:59:00 AM:

There are many things to knock Truman for, but ending world war two as quickly as possible is not one of them. Truman's duty was to save as many American lives as possible, and he did so.

What Truman should have been indicted for was going into Korea without a declaration of war.

-jcr  

By Blogger Mark in Texas, at Thu Apr 30, 10:59:00 AM:

When talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki one thing to keep in mind is that soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan today are being issued Purple Heart medals manufactured in 1945 in anticipation of the the invasion of Japan. The invasion never happened and the government wound up with warehouses of unneeded medals.

One other data point, in the 1970s the US government got rid of many tons of mustard gas that had been in storage since WW II. The Japanese had been training civilians to attack American troops with sharpened bamboo spears. In order to minimize US casualties the plan was to use mustard gas on places where that happened.  

By Blogger wellington, at Thu Apr 30, 11:01:00 AM:

The underlying problem here is that we seriously discuss a leftist comedian's view of the world.

I have obviously just contributed to the problem.  

By Blogger Beaver7216, at Thu Apr 30, 11:17:00 AM:

International law understands that there are individual laws and rights and states laws and rights. But they also recognize a 3rd type that they call piracy and allow states to do after pirates without regard to international laws. They recognize that piracy is not a individual criminal act nor a state act but a band of very powerful people acting outside normal laws. The jump from piracy to terrorism is small. A terrorist does not represent the state nor simply a criminal gang. They are a third class and there must be some laws to cover them. A terrorist has not signed the Geneva Conventions. And charging them in domestic court of say, Somalia or Taliban Afghanistan, seems to be obviously not the answer.
Why can't Stewart understand the difference? Also, why is it OK, apparently, to drop bombs on civilians in 1999 Serbia but not stress out people, under medical supervision?  

By Blogger Cosmo, at Thu Apr 30, 11:22:00 AM:

And what are we to do with things like the 'collateral damage' of the Obama administration's predator drone attacks in a country with which we are presently not at war?

The Left doesn't see that Obama's actions in Pakistan or Clinton's undeclared high-altitude war in the Balkans and his bombing of the Sudan could be the subject of political witch-hunts masquerading as 'human rights' crusades.

I guess they never expect to have the tables turned -- which is why we should remain wary of the ICC, since the pursuit of 'justice' only goes in one direction.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 11:25:00 AM:

Since that is so, why does anyone think dropping a "demonstration" bomb on an island near Japan would have made them surrender?
Not only that the implication of Stewart appears to be that if we in fact warned Japan ahead of time, but they didn't heed the warning that Stewart would then be ok with us dropping a nuke on Japan. So it's not the dropping of the nuke, but not giving them a demonstration first that is the war crime. Of course as discussed, we did warn them by dropping leaflets warning them to leave the area, and also by having to drop a second bomb as they hadn't heeded the warning of the first bomb.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 11:28:00 AM:

"When talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki one thing to keep in mind is that soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan today are being issued Purple Heart medals manufactured in 1945 in anticipation of the the invasion of Japan."

Common belief, but not actually true. They started making new medals in the 1970s. Look for the "Type IV" on this link:

http://www.purplehearts.net/id6.html  

By Anonymous Dave, at Thu Apr 30, 11:28:00 AM:

The problem with Jon Stewart,and the left in general, is that they have lost the ability to have intelligent discourse.

It is a fair historical inquiry to ask whether it was a good idea to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Reasonable minds can differ.

My understanding is that Eisenhower, Marshall and MacArthur were against the bomb, but Truman made the call.

My view is that it is a close call, but I side with Truman. No American deserved to lose his life, after we had already shed so much blood in the Pacific.

It is, however, LUDICROUS, to claim that Truman was a war criminal. That should discredit Stewart as a simpleton, with a simple mind.

It won't though.

Semper Fi!  

By Blogger Nylarthotep, at Thu Apr 30, 11:36:00 AM:

The really offensive stand that Stuart makes relates to freedom having related risk. Unfortunately his premise denies that even the free have the right of self determination and thus the right to defend themselves.

The first Nuclear weapons use and the use of "torture" are areas where the free must decide where the ethical boundary lies. How many lives are you willing to forfeit for a moral stand that not everyone agrees with? Stuart needs to ask himself what he would do if a terrorist act that could have been prevented occurred and wiped out his whole family. Would he still stand on his morals? If yes, good for him. But for the rest of us that say "hell no" he has no right to interfere.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 11:37:00 AM:

The critics indulge in moral preening from decades away because they cannot tell genuine right from wrong. Japan started the war. We had no obligation to end it with hundreds of thousands of US casulties simply to be someone's idea of "nice."

Nor do the critics have any sense of identity with their own country: they say the US owed the sacrifice of husbands, sons and brothers to avoid using the bomb because it would preserve the delicate sensibilities of people like Stewart. Better to slaughter a million US and Japanese lives than use the bomb.

But its all preening: If their life or wife were on the line they'd be the first to call for the A-bomb. Just like anti-police screamers are the first to call 911.  

By Blogger paul a'barge, at Thu Apr 30, 11:39:00 AM:

Jon Stewart is more interested in winning a debate than he is in seeing that Americans do not die a horrible death.

This is a man who had an opportunity to watch men and women jump from the WTC and yet he's willing to call Truman a war criminal.

I'll tell you who is a criminal. Jon Stewart is a moral criminal.  

By Anonymous Berwick, at Thu Apr 30, 11:43:00 AM:

My father in law was a Lt. in the Japanese Imperial Army infantry, in the home forces, when the bomb was dropped. He credits the dropping of the bomb with him being here today. He says the army was ready to fight tooth and nail across Japan until the bomb was dropped. In fact he was quite surprised (and happy) that his regiment didn't commit mass suicide when the surrender announcement came.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 11:51:00 AM:

Link, again

I'm convinced waterboarding keeps coming up, because the left enjoys playing the game: Isn't waterboarding torture? It's a rhetorical trick to put the other guy on the spot. They look bad, you look good.

Jon Stewart was put on the spot with the same tactic "Wasn't Truman a war criminal." If he had said no, a few quick counters and he'd be flumoxxed.

Here's another example of this. I had an accomplished friend who went for a Rhodes scholarship. In his interview, he was asked the question "If you were on a lifeboat with too many people, what would you do?" His answer wasn't what they wanted: "I'd throw overboard whoever I liked the least."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 11:57:00 AM:

OK, I'm a sucker for this debate, so here I go again. Like others here, it's personal -- my father was a Marine lieutenant (commissioned "by attrition", as he liked to say) who had managed to survive Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima (wounded), and Okinawa. He was getting ready for the invasion of Kyushu when Hiroshima was bombed. One of my maternal uncles has been a miltary fireman at Schoefield Barracks during Pearl Harbor, he remembered trying to pull trapped, burning soldiers out of wreckage and having their lower bodies pulled off. My maternal great-uncle had been at Bataan and survived, sort of, the Bataan Death March and capitivty; he had severe PTSD and died of alcoholism-related causes in the fifties. If you want to read several well-informed and thoughtful treatments of the end-game of the Pacific War I recommend No End Save Victory (http://www.amazon.com/No-End-Save-Victory-Perspectives/dp/0425183386/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241106212&sr=1-1), especially the last five essays. Pretty obvious that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the best thing for all concerned, including the Japanese. The only real alternative to nuking them was to have negotiated, which would almost certainly have meant leaving the inner Japanese Empire (Korea, Taiwan, Sakhalin) and maybe Manchuria in Japanese possession, and a revenge-seeking govenment in power. Versailles in the Pacific.

Plenty to criticise Truman for, but not the bomb decision. Where are the senators from Missouri? Apologizing for Hiroshima to foreigners is an insult to Truman's memory, the state of Missouri, and all soliders who served in WWII, and their families. Speak up!  

By Anonymous J.R., at Thu Apr 30, 11:58:00 AM:

My father's division, the 10th Mountain Division, was on tap to go from Europe to the Pacific, after suffering horrendous casualties already in the Italian Campaign. Being an elite division, I'm sure it would have been one of the first to hit the Japanese home islands. Dad was home on leave when the Japanese surrendered, and I'm sure he let out a great sigh of relief. Mom said he stayed up all night that night, I suppose reflecting on his good fortune to have survived combat in Europe and now not having to face it again. People like Jon Stewart will never understand.  

By Blogger section9, at Thu Apr 30, 12:06:00 PM:

Dave:

Actually, Marshall was in favor of using the new weapon, while Eisenhower and MacArthur were against it for different reasons. Ike was appalled by the atomic bomb's indiscriminate destructiveness and understood its meaning as a descent into barbarism.

For his part, MacArthur knew that the atomic bomb's use would rob him of his hour of glory to outshine Ike as the leader of a Great Invasion. Ike had his moment with OVERLORD. MacArthur wanted his great land conquest with Operation DOWNFALL, the code name for the Invasion of Japan.

Truman became more skeptical as the summer of 1945 went on as to the casualty and troop estimates that were coming out of MacArthur's office in the Far East. MacArthur's intelligence chief, Charles Willoughby, was scrubbing the intelligence to make the Japanese forces on Kyushu to look as if they were weaker than they actually were. In point of fact, the Japanese 2nd General Army, under General Hata, had numerical parity with 6th U.S. Armies, under MacArthur and his subordinate, Walt Krueger.

In the end, the Navy under King and Nimitz, withdrew support for OLYMPIC because of the fact that the Japanese numbers in Kyushu could not be denied. In addition, the new weapon had been combat tested by the 509th Composite Group at Hiroshima, and showed every prospect of ending the war without invasion. Truman's decision to drop the weapon a second time at Nagasaki merely ratified his earlier decision to use the bomb the first time.

President's owe their people one thing: the care for the lives of their soldiers. In July and August, 1945, Harry Truman made the right choices. John Stewart needs to depend less on his researchers, and sit down and read a little history.  

By Blogger slhamlet, at Thu Apr 30, 12:14:00 PM:

Be fair and watch the whole clip, Stewart wasn't actually calling Truman a war criminal, he was responding to May's rhetorical feint, not putting that accusation forward. He later acknowledged there was a logic to nuking Hiroshima/Nagasaki to save lives (US and Japanese), just that he thought it was an unnecessary overreach understandably inspired by the temporary madness of war. That's a debatable, legitimate point. He's clearly not saying "war criminal" literally.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 12:18:00 PM:

The US only had a limited amount of material to make nuclear weapons at the time. We didn't have enough to waste on demonstrations.  

By Blogger TOF, at Thu Apr 30, 12:30:00 PM:

Does anyone doubt for a moment that FDR, had he survived another six months, would not have made the same decision as HST? If you believe that he would not, then you don't know about our "secret war" http://www.historyarticles.com/new_page_10.htm in the North Atlantic some nine months before Pearl Harbor.

FDR was a realist and a pragmatist and pretty cold-blooded when it came the the Nazis and Imperial Japanese. I have no doubt that some German city would have been incinerated had the war in Europe dragged on another four months.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 12:37:00 PM:

A few thoughts:

1) Someone above misspelled comedian as "commedian". Has a new word been inadvertently coined here? "Commie-dian"? Or, perhaps, just "commiedian". Either way, I like it.

2) A college professor of mine was stationed in Manila when the news of the Japanese surrender came. "A drunk wave SWEPT through Manila Bay!" was his description of that particular occasion.

In November of 1945, he was sent to Japan for peacekeeping/reconstruction. Entering Tokyo Harbor, there were empty gunnery towers everywhere. At one point, the small craft he was in got stuck in the shallows. This would have been where he met his Maker. Instead, he lived another 50 years...and I am grateful (he attended my church as well and I count myself fortunate to have known him).

He later was witness to the Bikini Island detonations and re-affirmed that yes, truly, this was the most awesome weapon ever conceived of by man.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 12:50:00 PM:

If we had lost the war Truman would have been prosecuted as a war criminal. Curtis LeMay, the man in charge of the bombings even said that he knew if America lost he would be executed as a war criminal. The reason why Truman could be considered a war criminal isn't because he authorized using the bomb, its because he used it to destroy entirely civilian targets; furthermore, he picked those targets because they were some of the only places that had not already been destroyed by fire bombing.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 12:56:00 PM:

What I find troubling is Jon Stewart's argument that freedom is costly and that to protect our freedom we need to put our lives at greater risk. I agree that freedom is riskier, but that he can't also recognize that it must also extend to living life and not just defending against terrorism. I agree with Jon that our freedom puts us at greater risk from terrorism. We don't want a police state just so we can be safe. My problem is that he doesn't understand that freedom also means the government can't take away another man's freedom so you can have better healthcare, a job, a house or food. Freedom has risks. Those risks include being open to getting fired, losing your house and not getting medical attention if you didn't prepare properly for emergency situations. Yet, Jon Stewart advocates policies that would take away a doctor's or nurse's right to work for whomever they want and charge a patient the price that they set for their services. He believes I can have money forcibly removed from me to prop up a bank that made bad investments. Freedom means risk and I'm OK with that. I just wish everybody else was, too.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 01:13:00 PM:

Something a lot of people do not know is that there was a faction in the Imperial High Command which was plotting to kidnap the Emperor and FORCE the war to continue. Hiroshima convinced them otherwise, and most committed suicide. And also, most people in the U.S. are not aware of just how strong the defensive build-up in Kyushu had been; there would have been almost a parity of forces, which is NOT a recipe for victory for the attacker. It is possible that, without the Bombs, the Japanese might have fought their way to an Armistice rather than a surrender.  

By Anonymous Occam's Beard, at Thu Apr 30, 01:44:00 PM:

My father was in the 4th Marine Division, where he survived the assaults on Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima (where he won a battlefield commission after his company suffered 75% casualties).

Since the 4th Marine Division was scheduled to spearhead the invasion of Japan, the likelihood that he'd have survived that, and that I'd be here today, is low indeed.  

By Blogger davod, at Thu Apr 30, 02:13:00 PM:

"The underlying problem here is that we seriously discuss a leftist comedian's view of the world."


I read some time ago that many of his viewers thought he was a credible news source.

This is why his comments have to be rebutted.  

By Blogger newton, at Thu Apr 30, 03:19:00 PM:

Harry Truman once called all of those who condemned him for making the decision to drop the bomb "crybabies."

Truman was right. And Stewart is one of them.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 03:37:00 PM:

Jon Stewart's idea of setting off the A-Bomb 15 km off the coast could have worked, but probably would not.

Remember that Hiro and Naga were a couple of days apart. The first bomb did not deter them - it took two.

To Truman's credit, he could have gone straight to Tokyo with the first bombs, but did not.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 03:40:00 PM:

It is possible that Jon Stewart does not know that Truman was a Democrat.

Just like black people don't know that George Wallace was a Democrat, and that Robert Byrd, a Democrat, was a KKK leader, and that Abe Lincoln was a Republican.  

By Anonymous Kaitian, at Thu Apr 30, 03:43:00 PM:

My grandfather was a POW in the Pacific War falling to the Japanese under MacArthur at Corregidor where he lived 2 years in the Philippines, more than a year in China and his remaining year in the Japanese homeland. There were still hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war under the Japanese and large areas such as Indonesia were still under Japanese control. Especially that 27.1% of prisoners died before the war was over due to the brutal treatment of the Japanese since they never signed the Geneva Convention regarding POW's.

It quite pisses me off when those Japanese civilians that were dedicated to helping fight the war that they started are elevated higher status than the hundreds of thousands if not millions of POW's that were still held captive before the war's end.

Truman is a hero, not a criminal, period.  

By Blogger jr565, at Thu Apr 30, 03:54:00 PM:

The worst thing about his statements are how contradictory and reactionary they are.
And it makes you realize he doesn't really know what the Geneva Conventions actually say (and I'd imagine his audience is equally clueless).
For example, May asks is any rough treatment torture and Stewart suggests that noone is arguing such things and its a false comparison. Then May suggests that if we were to hold terrorists to the Genevan Conventions then anything beyond asking for name, rank and serial number could be deemed excessive, and Stewart then says something along the lines of "well, duh...those are the rules". Which is completely contradictory to his earlier statement that noone was suggesting that noone was suggeseting that any harsh treatment was deemed torture. If the left and Obama want to strictly adhere to the Geneva Conventions then even the army field manual is probably excessive treatment.
And Stewart then makes the argument that, when its pointed out to him that Al Qaeda didnt sign the Geneva conventions, that we are still bound to adhere to them. Which is true and untrue. Yes we are bound to adhere to them, but terorrists are not protected by them. Which is exactly the issue that the past administration was wrestling with.
The Geneva convention distinguishes between those who are signatories to it and mercenaries who are not afforded Geneva's protections. That doesn't mean that they have no rights whatsoever, only they aren't covered by Geneva. So in fact John is the one arguing things ahistorically, namely that we need to uphold our values by adhering to Genva, but he's completely twisting Geneva and history, purely out of ignorance.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 04:02:00 PM:

Anonymous 1:13, the plot to prevent the surrender happened after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They figured, quite correctly, that we probably didn't have many more bombs left (in fact, we had just one) If they just told us to piss off and drop the last one, the failure to obtain surrender would have (they thought) been demoralizing to the Americans. They tried to hijack the disc with the emperor's surrender message before it could be broadcast, and nearly pulled it off.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 30, 05:09:00 PM:

I disagree with Jon Stewart a lot, but I've watched him for years. He and Colbert are better than most of our journalists -- NBC, ABC and Fox included -- for calling them as they see them ... maybe because they don't care about getting invited to the right soirees ... and because it's hard to write good humor that doesn't have some truth to it. Because they're often funny and even informative -- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the only TV "news" I watch.

I was disappointed with Stewart during the 2008 campaign when he seemed to turn on McCain -- the two disagreed on nearly everything, but used to have great mutual respect -- I believe McCain has been on with Stewart more than any other guest. Like many, Stewart gave into the Obama juggernaut ... but recall that even The Economist endorsed Obama.

I'd take the bet that Stewart will be the first "journalist" to turn on Obama, not counting the blondes on Fox ... but it may take awhile. In time, the absurdity of Obama & Co will just be too much to resist. When it happens, we'll know the tide has turned.

Jon Stewart is wrong on Hiroshima, but so are a lot of people. Many of us project onto the past too much from today -- e.g, having grown up with the risk of Soviet missiles ... Dr Strangelove ... Planet of the Apes, we think differently about nukes today. In the context of 1945, Truman made the right call -- it wasn't close. If we had had to stage an invasion and it was remotely like our experience in Okinawa -- and we learned that Truman had held back a super weapon developed at great expense -- we would have had an army of Gold Star Mothers descend on DC demanding Truman's impeachment and crucifixion, and rightly so.

Link, over  

By Blogger jr565, at Thu Apr 30, 07:14:00 PM:

The absolutely silliest thing Johnny said was that Truman may have been commiting war crimes but he understands temporary insanity as well (as if Truman was suffering from temporary insanity when he dropped the bomb).And that war is temporary insanity so things that happen there have to be looked at within the context of war. Is he so obtuse that he doesn't realize that this invalidates his entire argument and that people have been arguing that very thing concerning waterboarding and which he has been refusing with all his might to provide context for?
Ok, so there's a context for Truman to drop two nukes as he was in the middle of a war, and he thought that by ending the war and getting japan to surrender he could save more lives than if he let the invasions continue. And thats ok. But in the confines of this war, THREE people can't be waterboarded to potentially prevent another terrorist attack that might kill 3000 more people even though we routinely waterboard thoudsands of servicemen routinely who undergo SERE training? So nukes that kill hundreds of thousands are ok, and need context, but waterboarding 3 people is somehow beyond the pale?
ANd its nice to know that John is willing to sacrifice Americans who will suffer fates far worse than waterboarding were an attack to go through, and thus by extension will in fact be tortured as it were (some might be trapped under rubble, breath in toxic dust, have a building collapse on them. Be stuck in a burning building and have to jump 80 stories so as to not burn to death .And John is ok with that going forward, rather than forcing people trying to carry out plots to give us requisite info so that we could potentially prevent said plots.Is he ok with SERE training where we TORTURE our guys? Because the japanese were executed (according to him) for waterboarding our guys. Musn't provide any context there John. Torture is torture, you jerk.

And finally, can we please distinguish between waterboarding as its practiced by our interrogators and SERE trainers and waterboarding practiced by the Japanese? For example the japs, when waterboarding actually made people swallow huge amounts of water and then jumped on them so as to break their insides. That is a completely different practice than waterboarding practiced in SERE training.  

By Anonymous John Costello, at Thu Apr 30, 07:43:00 PM:

The opinion of Japanese historians (Pacific Historical Journal some time in 1999) is that Truman's decision saved the lives of _millions_ of Japanese, as well as hundreds of thousands of Americans. The Japanese government was not going to surrender--they were training teen-age girls to attack American troops with bamboo stakes. Even after Hiroshima they were not going to surrender; it was only after Nasasaki that they realized they could not fight the US to a standstill.  

By Blogger jr565, at Thu Apr 30, 07:48:00 PM:

In wikipedia they describe waterboarding as practiced by the japanese as the following:

the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.Show me where we are beating KSM while pouring water down their throats, show me where anyone undergoing waterboarding has a distended stomach (because we literally poured water down their throat so that their stomach is filled with water) and then show me where we are jumping on KSM's stomach to rupture his insides. Can John Stewart show me at any point wher we are doing this to either KSM or our own troops when undergiong SERE training? It's not the same procedure. So John and the rest of the aholes should stop saying "We executed japanese for waterboarding" as if it was a direct comparison. And even that is a lie. We executed the various prisoners because of things like genocide mass torture of civilians (waterboarding being one technique among many used on a lot of people ,many of whom were civilians)  

By Anonymous space commando, at Thu Apr 30, 09:50:00 PM:

Books like John Toland's Infamy in the 70's were taken as gospel by SDS generation looking to discredit the WWII generation.

A pair of great books from the last decade, that sadly don't yet have enough traction, refute the revision. They are Richard B. Frank's Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire and Linda Goetz Holmes' Unjust Enrichment: How Japan's Companies Built Postwar Fortunes Using American POWs  

By Blogger Mark in Texas, at Thu Apr 30, 10:49:00 PM:

Common belief, but not actually true. They started making new medals in the 1970s. Look for the "Type IV" on this link:

http://www.purplehearts.net/id6.html
No. You and your website are incorrect.

Here is the story:

http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2000/8/2000_8_81.shtml

By 1976 roughly 370,000 of these had been earned by servicemen and women who fought in America’s Asian wars as well as in trouble spots in the Middle East and Europe. This total included a significant number issued to World War II and even World War I veterans whose paperwork had finally caught up with them. That year also saw a small production run of additional Purple Hearts before a warehouse-load—125,000 decorations —of decades-old inventory was rediscovered after falling off the books.  

By Anonymous Will, at Fri May 01, 12:07:00 AM:

I fail to see why anyone should pay any attention to people like Jon Stewart. Why in the WORLD do celebrities get credence simply for being celebrities?

We will be much better off if we somehow get off this "celebrity" nonsense. I think that is what happened in 2008: we basically ELECTED a "celebrity".  

By Anonymous Cait, at Fri May 01, 12:26:00 AM:

Oh, ignorance.

Of course, as May pointed out later, at stake for both countries was a prolonged war that might have been responsible for far more deaths potentially into the millions on both sides. This is just plain not the case history makes. Japan was ready to surrender. The US had intel to this effect. We knew Japan was defeated. We knew they were gearing up for surrender. The dropping of the bombs was NOT intended to end the war. It was intended to:

1) Prove the military might of the US to Russia.
2) Justify the cost of building the atomic bomb.
3) To field test the carnage an atomic bomb could cause on a city.

Truman did NOT drop the bombs to end the war. He didn't NEED to. He KNEW this. He had other things in mind and the continued slaughter of Japanese civilans served his goals.

http://www.workers.org/2005/world/hiroshima-0811/

As Americans, we like to think the best of our history and leaders. This doesn't mean they were saints. I agree that Truman was a war criminal. So was Hirohito, who commanded his military to conquer, rape, and pillage China and Korea. WWII was not a "clean" war. It wasn't the good 'ol days. It was just as messy and horrible as any conflict today.  

By Anonymous Candide, at Fri May 01, 12:34:00 AM:

I know all these puerile rhethorics will be washed away by the next serious terror act on the US soil.

Yet I sincerely hope this terror act will be postponed indefinitely.

In the interim, they can talk all they want...  

By Blogger Kaitian, at Fri May 01, 04:28:00 AM:

Candide

Bullshit and that's a lie. You know it as well. There were millions of prisoners of war with Korea, Taiwan, Sakhalin, Indonesia still under the Japanese control.

You cited a communist site as an argument that this is the case when it isn't. You see anywhere in that article about the prisoners of wars that were still held captive especially my grandfather? Of course not you fucking dipshit. Take your despicable shit elsewhere.

Everyday that the war went on, more prisoners of wars were dying by the thousands. The Japanese War Machine was extremely decentralized that the civilian workforce was the war machine. You're elevating the status of those that died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki higher than those that were suffering massively under the Japanese.

Fuck off.  

By Blogger Kaitian, at Fri May 01, 04:32:00 AM:

I meant to say Cait, not Candide.  

By Blogger paul a'barge, at Fri May 01, 06:49:00 AM:

It's a good thing to have people like Jon Stewart on TV. It makes it obvious what kind of mutts walk freely among us.

Outrageous? Definitely. Morally acceptable, never.

Jon Stewart. William Ayers. Bernadine Dohrn. Traitors all. Keep them up front and in full view. And keep your hands on your valuables while you watch them.

These are spiritual thieves. They slither into hiding only during times of real national emergency. In times of relative peace, they are always there, nagging, whittling away at our moral outrage.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 08:37:00 AM:

First of all, it is truly annoying that Stewart misrepresents May's opinion. Mr. May agrees with him that there should be a line we never cross -- he just doesn't agree on the line.

I hope some people in the audience caught that.  

By Blogger Beldar, at Fri May 01, 08:52:00 AM:

This is a very serious subject for me too, since my dad was a junior officer serving on the bridge of the USS Zeilen -- a troopship that had already been hit by one kamikaze, with heavy loss of American lives, after landing troops at Iwo Jima in February 1945, and which would have certainly been one of the prime targets for more kamikazes during the multiple invasion landings that would have taken place in the home islands.

Here's what I just emailed to my kids, along with a link to this post, TigerHawk:

----------

This shows why Jon Stewart — who I admit can be very funny — is also very dangerous to America, and in particular to American youth who get much of their news and opinion from him: When it comes to his true (non-clowning) opinions, he’s at the farthest fringes of the radical Hard Left moonbats, and he’s not only ignorant of history, but he actively misinforms others about it.

At the time Truman gave the okay to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, those two bombs — “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” — were the only two atomic bombs we had. They were each of a different type, neither of which had ever been tested (since the only previous test of any atomic bomb, at Trinity Test Site in New Mexico, had been of an even simpler device that was suspended from a tower, not dropped as a bomb at all). Each used a different type of nuclear material — enhanced uranium created by centrifuges for one, plutonium created in an atomic pile for the other — because we didn’t know whether either type of material would really work, and it had taken months to produce enough material just for those two bombs. Our best scientists honestly weren’t sure they’d even work at all as bomb, much less how much damage they’d do. Best case, it would have taken months to make and deliver more bombs to the Pacific in any event.

As for Stewart’s suggestion that we do a “demonstration bomb,” the militant fascists running the Tojo War Cabinet had complete control of the Japanese press and would have suppressed any news of a remote “demonstration.” Nor did the Japanese have the scientific ability to monitor the details of an explosion on a remote island. And if we’d told them where and when to look, they would have been able to send their few remaining air interceptors to shoot our bombers down.

As it was, even with the entire country quickly learning that Hiroshima had been devastated, large portions of the Japanese public refused to believe that it was a single bomb which had done that (there having been other entire Japanese cities, including large portions of Tokyo, destroyed by fire-bombing campaigns already). And the Hiroshima bomb still failed to convince even the leaders who knew better — that’s why the second bomb at Nagasaki was indeed needed.

Moreover, it was impossible to bomb any purely military targets in Japan anymore with ANY size bomb. The Japanese had always built their military plants mixed in with civilian cities because that’s where the workers to staff them came from. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki still had large and active war industries mixed in with their civilian populations; they were indeed the most significant military targets left to destroy in Japan. (OTHER raids during WW2, both in Europe and Japan, by both sides DID target primarily civilian populations in carpet-bombing without focusing on military targets, mostly during night bombing where more precision was impossible but it was harder for defending fighter planes to intercept the bombers. In that respect, the atomic bomb strikes were MORE JUSTIFIABLE than previous bombing.)

It was only after Nagasaki that some more moderate portions of the Japanese government, including most significantly the Emperor, concluded that America could continue dropping such bombs (even though they didn’t know it would be at least 2-3 more months before the next one could arrive in-theater). And there were efforts to mount a coup to purge those moderates up until the moment the Emperor’s surrender message was broadcast over Japanese radio, because a large and powerful majority of the Japanese military still WANTED to go to their deaths in a blaze of glory defending the homeland against an American invasion, even though it would have also wiped out an estimated quarter or more of the civilian population. (On other Japanese islands like Okinawa, virtually 100% of the civilian population had been killed or coerced by Japanese authorities into committing suicide when the American invasion succeeded; they literally jumped to their deaths off of cliffs by the hundreds, as Americans watched in horror and tried ineffectively to stop them.)

The Japanese naval forces were mostly beaten everywhere except near their home islands by then, of course, and their economy had been strangled of oil and other raw materials, but they still had an extremely large Army, and it was still extremely dangerous. Even the Japanese Navy could still be dangerous: The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, for example, which had delivered one of the a-bombs to the US air base at Tinian Island in July, was sunk on the way home, with only 317 out of 1196 on board surviving. If it had instead been sunk on the way TO Tinian, there would only have been one bomb to drop, and the war probably would have continued for months longer.

Your grandfather was then a junior officer on a troopship that would definitely have been used in the invasion of the Japanese home islands, which it was estimated would cost 1 million American lives plus tens of millions of Japanese lives. His ship, the USS Zeilin, had already been hit by one kamikaze plane in February 1945 with heavy loss of life, just after landing troops at Iwo Jima (where the Marines famously raised the flag). At a minimum, the Zeilin’s bridge (where he served) would have been one of the prime targets for all the remaining kamikaze planes the Japanese could stitch together to oppose the invasion, because they wanted to sink troop ships more than anything else. And of course the troopships, including the Zeilin, were less heavily armored and defended, having mostly been converted passenger ships from before the war.

Moreover, the Soviets — whose military forces in the European war had been freed up by the defeat of German in May 1945 — had finally declared war on Japan. Soviet armies were gobbling up the northern Japanese islands after overrunning their positions in Siberia and northern China. The Russians still hold northern islands TODAY that the Japanese traditionally considered part of their territory throughout history. If we hadn’t ended the war when we did, probably the northern 1/3rd of Japan would have been “behind the Iron Curtain” just like all of Eastern Europe was between 1945 and 1993. And instead of the large majority of Japan coming under a peaceful and very light American military occupation — with a resulting American-inspired constitution, and economic reconstruction that enabled Japan to become a leading and FRIENDLY world industrial power by the 1960s — Japan would have been a divided, heavily militarized country during all those decades, with consequent expense to the American taxpayers similar to what we’ve spent maintaining many very large military bases in Germany since 1945.

If Truman hadn’t dropped the bombs (both of them, i.e., all that we had), in other words, the odds were that at least hundreds of thousands, and probably millions, of further lives on both sides would have been lost without any ultimate point, and that tens of millions of Japanese would have lived in Communist slavery for decades. And the odds that you (and I and your G-Pa) in particular might not be alive as a result are very, very substantial.

Stewart is funny, but he’s a dangerous idiot on anything serious.  

By Blogger Beldar, at Fri May 01, 09:05:00 AM:

By the way, re Candide's comment above:

How stupid do you have to be to write the phrase "gearing up to surrender"?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 10:12:00 AM:

Stupid enough to believe the rest of the bullshit in the post. It continually amazes me that people like Cait (or whomever wrote the post) can actually hold their noses long enough to live in this country. Do me a favor, don't try to save us from ourselves and our misbegotten understandings of history Cait- move on down the road to a more congenial place.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 11:05:00 AM:

Link, again

Beldar, that's as good an explanation as I've ever read on this issue.

I wouldn't single out Jon Stewart for his ignorance on this -- it's rife. Stewart isn't a Janeane Garofalo -- I've found him open to reason. He could turn on Obama yet. Your broader point that there are dangerous idiots in media spouting ignorant opinions is well taken. I find it most unsettling that many of these folks are considered the real journalists.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 02:45:00 PM:

I had a Marxist professor who made the same claim about "gearing up to surrender". I suppose she didn't understand the complexity of Japan's leadership.

This is also the same prof who claimed:
1.) After WWI, Eastern Europe loved Communism and the Allies should have given the territory back to Russia.
2.) One of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki pilots killed himself out of guilt. (I checked, didn't happen.)
3.) Food shortages in East Germany were caused by the West (!).  

By Blogger Beldar, at Fri May 01, 03:22:00 PM:

Thanks, Anonymous. Re-reading my post, I see that I actually got a couple of small details wrong because I was going from memory: My father's troopship, the Zeilin, was actually hit by the kamikaze in late January 1945 after landing troops on Luzon. After temporary repairs, the Mighty Z also landed troops on Iwo Jima on March 9-16, 1945. But after permanent repairs in San Francisco, she was back at Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, roughly half-way to Japan, when hostilities ended in the Pacific on August 15, 1945. There's no doubt that the Zeilin (and therefore my father) would have been involved in landings on the Japanese mainland, and indeed she'd overseen earlier landings as a relief flagship for the Commander Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet.  

By Anonymous Irritator of the Powerful, at Fri May 01, 04:07:00 PM:

Excellent string! Several comments:
1. I don’t believe we dropped warning leaflets on Hiroshima prior to the A-bomb drop. We did on other cities but not Hiroshima.
2. Contrary to what I was taught in elementary school, the US probably would not have lost a million men in an invasion of Japan. But the reason for this is that an invasion of Japan would almost assuredly not have occurred. Yes, Operation Olympic was the Plan of Record in August 1945, but by that time the Japanese had correctly foreseen the invasion of Kyushu and had moved in multiple army divisions to meet the invaders. As one poster said, the ratio of Japanese defenders to American invaders would have been about 1:1 or worse by November 1, 1945, the planned invasion date. Secret Japanese communications decoded by Ultra showed this buildup and by August, Admiral Nimitz was ready to tell President Truman that he no longer supported the invasion due to the change in Japanese defense strategy; this de-commit would almost certainly would have killed the invasion.
3. What would have happened would have been far worse for all concerned. In July 1945 the Allies finished their evaluation of their defeat of Nazi Germany. Perhaps to their surprise, they found out that the bombing of war industries, military targets, and civilian centers were not critical in the German capitulation. It was the bombing of the Axis railroad hubs and tracks had been the killer stroke, cutting off both the military and the supporting civilian population from food, war material, etc. Armed with this knowledge, the US command in the Pacific was going to target Japan’s railroads and hubs starting in the second week of August 1945. It would only have taken a few weeks to complete the destruction of the railway system; the Japanese had neither the material nor the labor to repair such damage. Before the war, the Japanese could have managed without a railroad system since the vast majority of its food and material moved via ship from one Japanese port to another. But the Allies had sunk most of the Japanese shipping and bottled up what was left by mining the harbors. With no shipping and no railroads, there simply would not have been any way to get food to Japanese located outside agricultural areas. The resulting starvation would have been truly Biblical in its devastation, probably killing millions of civilians as well as the 100,000+ Allied POWs held in Japan. For a far better narration of these events, please see Richard Frank’s superb book, Downfall.
4. And let’s be clear: the Japanese Army brass and the head of the Imperial Navy wanted an Allied invasion of Kyushu. They wanted a Ketsu-Go (Decisive Operation) to happen so they could kill thousands of US soldiers and hopefully make the US population tire of the bloodshed and drop its demand for Unconditional Surrender. They expected to perhaps lose millions of Japanese civilians in this Decisive Battle; it was a cost they were more than willing to pay. Only Hirohito’s call for surrender caused them to back off their plans.
5. One more comment on John Stewart. He’s not an empty suit; he’s a very intelligent, very quick-witted individual who happens to do comedy. In a way, his role as comic allows him to be far more bullet-proof than the talking heads on NBC, CNN, etc. He can mix fact, fiction, and sarcasm in his monologs as no anchor person could ever get away with. He can basically take shots as he wishes without having to measured by the same standard we’d use for others. However, he dug himself a hole with his “Truman was a war-criminal” remark, and that is unusual for him. Excellent job by Mr. May.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 05:04:00 PM:

Truman would have been impeached for not using the bomb.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 01, 09:30:00 PM:

Years before the Japanese ". . .suddenly and deliberately bombed Pearl Harbor*, as I remember Roosevelt saying the next morning, their forces had invaded China under the mantra of building a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." Gruesome stories filtered out, and they were part of the reason for the Chinese people's welcome of Jimmy Doolittle's "30-Seconds-over-Tokyo" raiders. The Japanese subsequently invaded the Philippines, where US forces were overrun and put to the Bataan Death March (q.v.) If you wish to invoke the Geneva Convention somewhere, you might consider starting with Bataan.

A story coming out of Japan in recent years told of a meeting of high military officers convening to hear the news of the successful raid on Pearl Harbor. One of their chiefs, however, said, "I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant." They should have given him more heed.  

By Blogger Beldar, at Sun May 03, 01:56:00 AM:

With due respect, the notion that we would have abandoned plans to invade Japan and instead have continued a blockade to starve them out is not a credible one.

The Soviets would not have cooperated. They weren't deterred by casualties, and where they would have decided to stop, if at all, is anyone's guess.

America also couldn't maintain its war machine, unused, indefinitely. There were hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of troops being remobilized from Europe to the Pacific, and hundreds of thousands of troops already being moved into place for the invasion. (As mentioned above, my father was on one such troopship.) We were at the peak of our military power, and very much in a "use it or lose it" position. No commander could have given Truman a guarantee that a blockade would work; nothing short of a guarantee would do.

The Japanese might well have starved en masse and yet still been able to effectively resist an invasion for months (even if the Soviets had somehow been persuaded to stop).

Obviously we're all speculating. But in deciding which speculation is most reasonable, I'll go with the branch which is in accord with the plans as they actually existed, and not what someone now thinks they might have been changed to (but weren't).  

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