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Atheism and Islamophobia

There is a problem with Islam.

Islam as a whole is very very bad at taking criticism. There is a fairly sizeable and vocal opposition to dialogue and discourse. It is outside the west a terrible faith of oppressive ideas particularly towards women. In Islamic countries one regularly sees a creeping installation of fundamentalists as the role models of “Islam” resulting in totalitarian regimes and barbarous rules.

Let’s take Bangladesh for instance. A creeping islamicisation of society has resulted in open attacks on atheists resulting in deaths. And rather than be shocked at this, the government wishes to jail atheists to appease the fundamentalists. The message provided is one of appeasement.

In any theocracy, the fundamentalist is king. The man who sticks the most to the Koran is the most religious and therefore the most likely person to lead. Never mind the fact that you need other things to run a country.

However Atheism has it’s problems with the critique of Islam. 

Let’s take into account Sam Harris.

“The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

That’s not a good thing to hear.

Let’s take into account another famous atheist.

Pat Condell’s anti-islamic spiel has verged on anti-muslim and he has repeatedly stated right wing/neo-nazi talking points particularly against multiculturalism.

Now here in lies the problem.

There is a notion that Islam is harmless. It’s in fact probably more harmful currently than Christianity is. But remember LOCALITY LOCALITY LOCALITY. Hinduism is a bigger problem in India than Islam and Christianity. Because of the Hindu majority. It’s the same argument between the Nation of Islam and the Tea Party. The Tea Party may believe in less dangerous things than the Nation of Islam but their size makes them more more likely to be taken seriously.

However in areas where Islam has been shown to be dominant, there is a major problem with fundamentalism and the usage of Islam as a tool to oppress through violence and fear. Now here is the thing.

We can and should learn to differentiate between Islam and Muslims. Let us not forget that Islam mainly oppresses Muslims.

See, our issue is that the anti-Islam arguments that we currently have are so interlaced with right wing and neo-nazi demagoguery that we cannot differentiate the two things. It actually harms ex-Muslim atheists because neo-nazis hate them equally and what comes out of the mouths of atheists looks like the same stuff.

And it’s actually kind of hard since there is sadly a modicum of truth. Islamic terrorism is widely seen and it’s scale and organisation is on a much more global reach than any other group. The LTTE may have had suicide bombers but they weren’t running a campaign of assassinations outside Sri Lanka. The Hindus may have gone crazy and killed thousands of muslims (and vice versa) in Inter-religious warfare but they again stuck to India. Such religious violence is seen as exclusive to specific areas.

With Islam though? The USA, UK, Europe, India have all seen the scourge of Islamic terrorism. The scale and goal of such terror is a lot more widespread and more alien and nebulous than that of other groups. The LTTE like the IRA fight for a homeland. The Islamic fundamentalists often believe in a variety of conspiracy theories and rhetoric that makes it hard to argue and debate.

First let’s deal with Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is the unnecessary and pointless criticism of Islam. So to say “Islam plans to fuck us out of Europe, just look at the number of children being born to them!” is Islamophobia.

Saying Islam treats women badly using the Burkha and Hijab and the control of society to disempower women and to strip them of any power and agency that they may have is not Islamophobic. It is the truth. We can look at the treatment of women in Islamic communities across the globe and even in such enlightened nations such as the UK and repeatedly come to the conclusion that Islam fucking sucks at treating women as human beings. And it gets worse. The major problem is that the very seat of Islam is in the hands of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A place of phenomenal wealth from oil and whose whose government in order to maintain power appeased wahabbists creating a society of lavish excess if you are a man and a caged existence if you are a woman. And woe betide anyone being accused of breaking a law. To call the KSA’s sharia law barbaric and stupid wouldn’t be wrong.

There is a massive elephant in the room and that elephant is that the moderate and liberal muslims have no onus and no voice to stand up and simply cut out the cancer that is fundamentalist Islam. When they do we repeatedly ignore them or simply don’t care.

When we say that there are “Some” Muslim individuals doing heinous things we forget that there is a scale of culture which forces muslims to not speak out against those who do heinous things lest they raise their ire. To not support these oxygen thieves is to not be a good Muslim. So while there are local drives to certain behaviours (Eg. Palestine’s support for it’s fundies is due to it’s fundies being the only ones to stand up for Palestinians. That if we actually gave Palestinians what they wanted and indeed deserved they wouldn’t have done any of these things. Instead our idiocy created a situation that is frankly untenable)

The problem is what portion of Islamic society has to be sufficiently fucked up before you declare it a problem? The boat is sinking, the rats have fled. If you honestly think Islamic society isn’t simply collapsing into a barbarous dark age then you are blind. We have seen the rot at the heart of Islam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, Syria… All these are just different symptoms of the same problem. Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even Indonesia and Turkey, two nations considered to be moderates when it comes to Islam have shown reverses in stances and even India whose large muslim population has generally been law abiding has started demonstrating things such as honour killing.

Let’s get this straight. I started on this topic after reading the Guardian’s article on Sam Harris and I have to disagree with one bit.

While the only nuclear weapons to have ever been used were by the mainly Christian USA, one has to remember that the Nuclear Weapon probably saved more lives. Let’s put this into perspective. The Empire of the RIsing Sun waged a horrific war. In many cases still fighting to the death. Across the entire pacific the Japanese mainly fought to the death with very few POWs being captured. Often wounded soldiers would booby trap themselves to kill allied soldiers. Let’s just say this made it a better prospect to shoot POWs out of hand. The captured POW camps from the Japanese didn’t really help the allied attitude towards surrendered POWs either.

To anyone in that war, the war would only end with the destruction of Japan’s entire infrastructure. Even forced back and starved, the Japanese army was still talking trash like Kim Jong Un after a few pints. The choices were to Invade Japan and suffer tens of thousands to even hundreds of thousands of casualties vs. a population of people who were near suicidal in their drive to kill and now defend their homeland and indeed “god” while inflicting millions of casualties.

Or demonstrate that we didn’t have to Invade them. That we had a weapon so terrifying that nothing could stand before it. While in hindsight we had let the genie out of the bottle, at the time when everyone was just so very tired of killing we wanted a quick way out.

The nuclear weapons gave us that. To say Islamic nations haven’t used nuclear weapons is to be extremely daft about it. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and hasn’t used them mainly because India has them and in an exchange of nukes the country with the most people is likely to win. There is however no question about it.

If the jihadis of Pakistan had their way they would have used a nuclear weapon. The only thing that kept the warmongers in check was sheer luck. Should Pakistan collapse, one hopes that the people who take them don’t use them. But considering the abject lack of self preservation and willingness to oppress their own, the average Jihadi with access to them would use them in a heart beat to strike in the name of their god. They don’t know why they shouldn’t use them. They do not care about the lives they waste.

They are a death cult and Islam’s fetishisation of martyrdom means the Jihadi has absolutely no qualms about sacrificing the lives of others because to him those lives mean nothing on this planet. The Jihadi preys on the desperate and the ignorant. It’s no wonder that the Taliban destroy schools because education erodes fanaticism.

And the problem with Islam as a canonical faith is that Islam cannot exist side by with any education that threatens it’s reality. Islam today is the same as the Roman Catholic church during the era of Galileo. And this pushes the fundies to the fore. And muslims pay that price daily. It’s a vicious cycle. Just look at Bangladesh. Many moderate Muslims agree with the Fundamentalists because to not want a Islamic State is to place yourself on the side of the Atheists and that’s just asking to be stabbed or beheaded or worse.

To be a bad muslim. Don’t wear a Burkha? You Bad Muslim. Learn evolution? Bad Muslim. Eventually you end up with things like the entire identity of being “A Muslim” synonymous from being “A Jihadi” and that’s synonymous with being a wanker.

Not all New Atheists are Sam Harris. We aren’t an organisation, we don’t all believe the same things. If I told my “followers” to “kill all the Dutch” they would tell me to “Go fuck myself”. And while some of us have fanatical followers, the vast majority of us lack a virulent fan base.

And yes against the Islamicists we are fighting a unequal war.

Sam Harris and indeed Christopher Hitchens are not sacred cows (SEE HINDU REFERENCE!) to be given free reign. They can and will be criticised. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And while we may have begun our war on “Islamic Terror” on that note, we have forgotten that what that entails is toeing “the line“. The War on Terror changed us by forcing us to do ever more morally questionable things in pursuit of a goal. A goal that we believed in because we were struck at the heart of what we believed in. Our fundies and politicians and our greedy took advantage of our fears and our desire to be heroes and we slowly become the things we feared the most. Monsters in our own rights. While we wept over the deaths of those we killed we always justified it with “It’s the price that needs to be payed for their freedom”. We saw ourselves initially as heroes. To fight a war like our grandfathers and to change the world for the better. Osama Bin Laden had no power yet he existed because what we couldn’t accept that what we had done in Iraq was for nothing. We needed someone to blame so we created the visage of a terrifying mastermind pulling the strings behind various attacks. Half Lex Luthor, Half Ming The Merciless? In the end he died. All coward and allegedly surrounded by the pornography his followers claimed to despise, cowering behind an innocent woman who died for him. A pointless man. Yes, I think we could have done real good in Afghanistan if not for our desire to be heroes, short attention span and our frankly moronic choice of allies.

Sam Harris believes in some daft things. He stood for torture because of the above reason. He stood for Israel because he cannot conceive a world where Palestine doesn’t commit acts of terrorism because he cannot understand that Palestinian terrorism is driven by the fact that they have no other options. The very existence of Richard Reid (the Shoe bomber and arguably the most successful terrorist ever considering he killed zero people yet managed to increase the total cost of flying by a sizeable amount thanks to extra security checks) shows that traditional profiling does not work. He even spoke out against the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” which was more like “Somewhere near Ground Zero and a Community Centre”.

Liberals may not be “Soft on terrorism” but a lot of people have said some frankly idiotic things that support some of the worst practices of Islam. My particular favourite is “Hijab Day” where a few western feminists spoke out in favour of the Hijab forgetting that they wear it out of fashion choice while the average muslim woman wears it because of a cultural and religious oppression of women.

And while people think Dawkins and indeed Hitchens spend all their time worrying about condemning the actions of distant people, one only has to read their writing to realise that they are most virulent against Christianity due to it’s immediate local effects. In fact there is a massive out cry amongst western ex-Muslim atheists about a LACK of direction with regards to the problems and evils of Islam. The few representatives they have had to claw their way through the ranks and they are often still ignored.

To claim that we shouldn’t take on and mock Islam and the actions of the Muslims who do believe in it is daft. It’s not racist to point out that Islam is bat shit crazy and has fostered an environment that creates fundamentalists and that it is our job as atheists to try and help those atheists from those cultures fight against the progressive dark age we find modern Islam in.

Let us once again go back to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a beast of our creation. In our war against the Soviets, we created the Mujahadeen and maintained the tribalism which eventually fragmented into the Taliban that we know today. It became one of the primary exporters of terrorism across the planet. From Indian to Russia to the USA and the UK to Africa, the mark of the Jihadi’s camps from Afghanistan is well known. India’s been harping on about it for nearly 20 fucking years and indeed pointing out Pakistan’s complicit nature in it.

What would you do? Development will not occur with the Taliban at the heart of it. You will have no overthrow of a rule of theocrats who do not care if you live or die. To bring improvements the Taliban must be destroyed. The attacks on Malala, MSF and the Red Cross have made it crystal clear that no improvements can occur without the destruction of the Pashtun culture of vendetta and of the Taliban.

The argument about Islamophobia is because it’s often used to bludgeon genuine criticism of Islam into the ground and to force genuine arguments against Islam to falter unless the arguer is willing to be lumped in with the BNP or Ann Coulter. People like Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin have been called Islamophobes because they spoke out against violence against women. Any attack on Islam no matter how valid has been regarded as Islamophobic.

While there are bigger threats than Islam, there is no bigger threat to Muslims across the world than Islam. Let’s look at different things for example. Indonesia with it’s secular islamic society has seen radicalisation with many Sharia courts slowly forcing all women to wear the Hijab. Bangladesh has spoken out against Atheists rather than the fundamentalists and is sliding towards a society with less free speech. India’s Muslims while relatively moderate have shown an ugly side during the whole Vishwaroopam debacle (because portraying Jihadis as wankers is insulting to Islam? I am more miffed in their portrayal of Oncologists!), Pakistan’s pretty much a civil warzone with daily attacks from fundamentalists. Iran’s “iran”. And the Middle East ranges from places like the UAE where the relative moderate society belies deeper issues such as the racism and the near enslavement of poor people from South Asia/South East Asia to places such as Iraq where Inter-Faith violence abounds to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen whose governments make them terrible places to live in. Egypt is going down that route and Saudi Arabia too. A lot of the Northern Coast of Africa while moderate can go down that route and even Turkey has seen some changes from it’s purely secular stance. Somalia’s rise of Islamicism has made it a “Second Afghanistan” with it’s export of terror in Africa. And this is without the spectres of the mistreatment of women, honour killing, disenfranchisement of women and female genital mutilation that are hard to fight due to these issues being so entrenched in Islam.

Just look at Nigeria? Where the efforts of healthcare workers have fallen flat at eradicating Polio due to the influence of Islam.

To claim this is some magically small percentage of Muslims is just daft as fuck. 9% according to the Guardian Article. I fear that the number of supporters is far higher. The problem being that many Muslims either don’t realise they are supporting the activities of such people or do so out of a misguided sense of duty.

Or indeed the price of sponsoring and protecting what lurks in their midst.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    Palestine’s support for it’s fundies is due to it’s fundies being the only ones to stand up for Palestinians.

    The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They could have had a state consisting of 100% of the Gaza Strip and, effectively, 95% of the West Bank in 2000 and turned it down. The only state that the Palestinians are interested in is one that consists of all of Palestine, with the current State of Israel going out of busi9ness and its Jewish population going elsewhere.

    He stood for Israel because he cannot conceive a world where Palestine doesn’t commit acts of terrorism because he cannot understand that Palestinian terrorism is driven by the fact that they have no other options.

    The sad fact is that the more the Palestinians engage in terrorism, the less likely they will ever get a Palestinian State. They willingly and with malice aforethought play into the hands of Bennett and Feiglin. The Palestinians have the will to impose an Eichmann solution on the Jewish population of Palestine but not the power, the State of Israel has the power to impose an Eichmann solution on the Arab population of Palestine but not the will.

    According to Mr. Avicenna, Sam Harris is daft because he supports the State of Israel. I guess then that 65% of the American public is also daft because polls indicate that they support the State of Israel.

  2. says

    If I came to your house and turfed you out to live in the garden in a fenced off piece of land in a tent while a bunch of Native Americans lived there you would be violently pissed off too. Particularly if the native americans started stealing what bits of land you do have left and kept turning the hose on you.

    And the fact that 65% of America supports Israel just demonstrates how out of touch the USA is with reality. Or how blind it is to History of both Jews and indeed their own.

    The Invasion and occupation of Palestine has cost more human lives than the Invasion of Kuwait. If we had any spine we would have forced the restoration of Palestine to it’s green line border or Invaded it by now.

    Honestly? To Placate Palestinians we would have to literally burn money to bootstrap their economy to the equivalent of Israel and force Israel to hand over infrastructure such as land corridors to the Mediterranean Sea for the construction of Ports for equal access to Trade while enforcing the border ourselves because Israel are frankly just “plain greedy”. I have already shown you the maps of illegal settlements and fences.

    Or you know… Let them go home and dissolve Israel as a purely “jewish” entity.

  3. otranreg says

    While the only nuclear weapons to have ever been used were by the mainly Christian USA, one has to remember that the Nuclear Weapon probably saved more lives. Let’s put this into perspective. The Empire of the RIsing Sun waged a horrific war. In many cases still fighting to the death. [...]

    Typical argument to defend nuclear bombings in Japan. And it’s bollocks. What was left of the Japanese Army was quickly routed by the Soviets around that time, and most of the August 1945 for the Japanese government was about swallowing pride. They didn’t have an army anymore, they could boast about guerilla tactics and militias, but without an officer corps, without organisation, heavy weaponry (or any weaponry at all), air support, it would be pissing in the wind, and they knew it.

    If anything, the nukes were dropped to score the US a few more diplomatic points, not save lives.

  4. says

    It’s in fact probably more harmful currently than Christianity is

    I am unconvinced by your not-quite assertion. Since the US is christian-dominated and is, right now, the world’s most heavily armed power, which has been going around starting wars of aggression – including against 2 countries predominantly populated by muslims, why is it that islam is the problem?! Yes, there are a lot of bad governments that are muslim, but the christian-dominated governments are more powerful and aggressive. Indeed, it was a christian-dominated government that was the first to use nuclear weapons and it chose to use them against cities full of civilians. It’s the christian-dominated US that has the highest proportion of its population in prison, and which (like some muslim states) practices death penalty, and was – until fairly recently – an apartheid state.

    The muslims would have to be consistenly more horrible than they’ve been, for a damn long time, to catch up to where the christians are, right now.

  5. says

    (PS – that’s not to say the muslims wouldn’t mind achieving parity of horribleness. But that proves my point. Harris talks about the nihilistic threat of muslims with nukes and ignores the nihilism of the US’ arsenal with enough overkill to carpet-bomb entire continents. Perhaps the muslims would like the capability to commit genocide at a continental level, but the christian led and dominated US has already achieved it – many times over. Inside the US, handfuls of decent people are fighting desperate rearguard battles to keep the christians out of overy control of military policy. And these aren’t the cute cuddly christians – they’re apocalyptic nutbags – monstrous nationalistic fascists who are comfortable with threatening pre-emptive war against countries like Iran that want a deterrent against invasion and threat. It was cute cuddly christians like Curtis LeMay who bombed North Korea into insanity after the armistice, gifting the world with an entire state founded on PTSD.

    The muslims dream of being as horrific as the christians; this “battle” or “debate” or whatever you want to call it is whether the christian-led world can keep the islamic-led world in a position where it only pump oil while being used as a piece of carpet.)

  6. says

    Which they were willing to fight to the death and throw into blind attacks with.

    And the Invasion of Manchuria occured after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That was a land grab for the Soviets.

    Hindsight may be 20/20 but to that point every damn Japanese Island was taken at massive cost and against an enemy who just gave no quarter and almost never surrendered. At the time it was the best option. It probably saved millions of Japanese lives considering how willing to throw away the lives of soldiers the Empire of the Rising Sun was.

  7. says

    The Empire of the RIsing Sun waged a horrific war.

    The government of Japan waged a horrific war, prosecuted enthusiastically but ultimately hopelessly by its army. Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki – which were barely military targets – while Japan was suing for peace – was not justifiable. Declaring that a country must surrender unconditionally is nothing more than collective punishment. The truth of the matter is that the US was ready to do anything to Japan except try diplomacy.

    Explain to me again why those schoolkids in Hiroshima were important to the war effort? Especially when the Japanese army was digging in to defend the probable assault sites to the south of Tokyo – a nuke strike there would have had actual military benefit and just as much political effect.

  8. says

    And the Invasion of Manchuria occured after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That was a land grab for the Soviets.

    I don’t know if you’re being intellectually dishonest there, whether you’ve bought the propaganda, or whether you’re short on your military history. Whichever it was:

    The invasion of Manchuria only happened because the Russian Army had (as it was wont to do) stomped flat the Japanese forces in China. The “land grab” (which it was) was only possible because Japan had been conclusively defeated and was only attempting to defend its homeland.

    Japan had attempted to negotiate surrender but was rebuffed because unconditional surrender was the only option (which is, in that situation, absurd – Japan would have put on the table whatever they needed to put on the table; they had no effective force left and expected Russia and the US to blockade the island and starve them into collapse) All the stories about huge US casualties from an invasion are absurd. A 6 month blockade while the forces built up would have ended with soldiers walking into a country with defenders that looked like Auschwitz survivors.

    The moral path was to never demand unconditional surrender – a path which was deliberately blocked off.

  9. says

    Hiroshima was one of the biggest industrial centres in Japan and the site of a Military HQ.

    Nagasaki was home to Mitsubishi Heavy industries ShipBuilders and the largest Naval Anchorage in Japan along with a Naval District

  10. says

    @otranreg:

    You are incorrect.

    By July 1945, the Japanese Navy was greatly trashed, but the Kwantung Army still gave the Japanese a land force of 600,000 on the Asian mainland. The Japanese attempted to negotiate a favorable peace agreement via the Soviet Union, but the Soviets were committed to attacking – in significant part to ensure that they would have unhindered access to the Pacific via Vladivostok – and so employed delaying actions on diplomacy while preparing for their invasion of Manchuria on August 9.

    The Japanese government had organized Operation Ketsugō, concentrating as much of their remaining naval, air, and Japan-based land forces as possible on Kyūshū with the goal of making an invasion so costly that the Allies would accede to an armistice. This was organized on the assumption of continued Soviet neutrality – which was obviously incorrect. They _also_ drafted the Volunteer Fighting Corps, which was largely untrained and poorly equipped.

    US plans for the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, had very wide ranges in the expected number of causalities, but they were all measured in the hundred thousands of US deaths and the millions of Japanese deaths. Thus the decision to start dropping nukes – it was seen as better to end the war with 250,000 deaths than to continue it and have there be ten or twenty times as many (in fact, there was provision to several more nukes, if Japan did not surrender).

    The decision was made on the grounds of saving both American and Japanese lives. You can argue that the decision was wrong or made on incomplete or inaccurate information. But it was not just “to score the US a few more diplomatic points”.

  11. says

    Hindsight may be 20/20 but to that point every damn Japanese Island was taken at massive cost and against an enemy who just gave no quarter and almost never surrendered.

    Competent military commanders don’t deal in hindsight. You need to read a bit about the decision-making process regarding the planned invasion. US war planners were going to take Japan and kill a whole lot of people no matter what, then turn Japan in to a US colony in the Pacific. Guess how that played out? Japan escaped with merely a dictatorship imposed by a crazed christian ideologue American general, culture-cide to the maximum degree.

    The argument about the island-hopping campaign being performed at massive cost is absurd – because, during the course of the Russian Army stomping its way through China and eradicating the Japanese forces there, and the US island-hopping campaign, the Japanese army was mostly destroyed – the reason they fought so hard and fought to the death was because they were trying to protect their homeland. When they were gone, there wasn’t a whole lot left. There weren’t really any military targets worth nuking, which ought to tell you something.

    The remaining argument is that the Japanese civilians were going to rise up suicidally and fight the battle-hardened US and Russian forces, which would have stomped them flat with hardly any effort – so, pre-emptively nuking them was OK? Give me a break.

    6 months of diplomacy while Japan was blockaded and the Japanese would have been dying of starvation but they’d have negotiated a conditional surrender on very favorable terms a lot sooner than that.

  12. slc1 says

    Re Avicenna @ #2

    If I came to your house and turfed you out to live in the garden in a fenced off piece of land in a tent while a bunch of Native Americans lived there you would be violently pissed off too. Particularly if the native americans started stealing what bits of land you do have left and kept turning the hose on you.

    As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what happened in North America when European settlers drove the native Americans into reservations, killing most of them. If the Palestinians continue on their current path, they are going to end up like Native Americans.

    The Invasion and occupation of Palestine has cost more human lives than the Invasion of Kuwait. If we had any spine we would have forced the restoration of Palestine to it’s green line border or Invaded it by now.

    The number of Palestinians and Israelis who have been killed since 1948 is only a tiny fraction of the number of people killed in Syria over the last 2 years, which number will be a lot larger before the situation there is finally resolved.

    Honestly? To Placate Palestinians we would have to literally burn money to bootstrap their economy to the equivalent of Israel and force Israel to hand over infrastructure such as land corridors to the Mediterranean Sea for the construction of Ports for equal access to Trade while enforcing the border ourselves because Israel are frankly just “plain greedy”. I have already shown you the maps of illegal settlements and fences.

    The Palestinians cannot be placated by anything other then the State of Israel going out of business. I have a flash for Avicenna. That ain’t going to happen. The State of Israel will be in business long after he and I have departed this mortal coil. Avicenna keeps ignoring the Clinton/Ross proposed Palestinian State in 2000, 100% of the Gaza Strip and effectively 95% of the West Bank.

  13. says

    US plans for the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, had very wide ranges in the expected number of causalities

    That’s an old canard worth debunking. The US’ approach to estimating casualties was based on the assumption that Operation Downfall was the only plausible plan for defeating Japan. It was not. There were other options that were kept off the table – when US war-planners say that the invasion would have caused horrible US casualties they are damning themselves by saying that their own impatience and unwillingness to negotiate with a defeated country that was suing for peace, whose supply lines were cut and whose government was in disarray split into mutliple factions – the only way to defeat them was with a stupid and destructive invasion.

    What would the US casualty scenario looked like if the US had clamped down its blockade, modified its terms a bit and called “unconditional surrender” an “unconditional surrender of military forces in the field” and proceeded to negotiate with the factions of the Japanese government that were ready to negotiate? Or, if the US had engaged in a demonstration nuking against the Japanese military forces preparing for the defense of Tokyo and then demanded modified surrender terms?

    Don’t you see that the whole situation was rigged? The US gave itself a hobson’s choice, in which the Japanese took it on the chin either way – and then blamed them. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

    This is the same kind of strategic reasoning the US military engages in today – the “only option” becomes a ‘surge’ and all the cost models are based on that “only option” Meanwhile ignore the other options. Just focus on the sole option that the pentagon wants to present. People fall for this shit. :\

  14. says

    (PS – the ‘surge’ is a great example of the kind of self-inflicted hobson’s choice the US military likes: do a ‘surge’ then withdraw – as an alternative to, um, withdrawing sooner? If you’re gonna withdraw, what’s the ‘surge’ for except to give pentagon bigwigs another chance to earn their 4th star by holding a significant field command for a rotation?

    Did you notice that the options were:
    – 30,000 man ‘surge’
    or
    – 100,000 man ‘surge’
    and nobody suggested GTFO right now, or draw down to zero?)

  15. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum

    Mr. Ranum, a Noam Chomsky./Don Williams wannabee should be aware that the Japanese high command was planning a coup against the Emperor, who they considered defeatist (and rightly so) which was in its advanced stages as the Enola Gay was headed towards Hiroshima. Had the coup been successful, not even the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have convinced the conspirators to say uncle and, at the time, we had only one bomb left so Truman’s threat of a rain of such weapons was bullshit.

  16. says

    @slc1:
    >>The number of Palestinians and Israelis who have been killed since 1948 is only a tiny fraction of the number of people killed in Syria over the last 2 years, which number will be a lot larger before the situation there is finally resolved. <<

    I am a little confused as to the point of this comparison?

    If you count only those directly killed by violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948, you get a number in the 10,000 – 15,000 range. But in wars, especially long ones, the total body count is not dominated by those directly killed.

    The Syrian civil war has lead to ~100,000 total deaths to date (estimates range over 70,000 – 120,000). This is about the same as the total number of deaths from the 1st Gulf War, and several times less than the Iraq War – where ~120,000 died from violence and ~500,000 from the refugee and health care crises produced by the conflict.

    Doing a total death calculation for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is hard, because it has lasted so long, but it will be far higher than the number of people who have died by violence. A brief web search finds numbers in the several hundred thousand range, but I can't assess which estimates are based on good data and which aren't.

  17. says

    I’m quite aware of the military planned coup. Why do you think it would have succeeded and how long would it have lasted? It doesn’t matter if the army takes control of a country when it’s lost the ability to effectively prosecute a war. Japanese society was falling apart – and, in fact, you prove my point: the government was collapsing and the US could have sat back, blockaded Japan, and kept poking whatever government came to power until they got a plurality that was willing to surrender. You also fail to understand that if you have a high command of hard-liners sitting in a bunker yelling orders to the troops to die to the last man – they still collapse. What you’re saying is tantamount to arguing that because Hitler was telling the Hitler youth to throw themselves at Russian tanks with grenades, that the Russians were unable to stomp Germany flat. Your understanding of military matters appears to begin and end with choosing the most bloodthirsty solution to any strategic problem. Well, you’d have been in good company with LeMay and MacArthur (who appears to have wanted to invade Japan in order to compete with Eisenhower for the military glory of slaughter, and not for any strategic reason)

    As far as your likening me to Chomsky, or whatever – what does that have to do with anything? That’s the most pathetic red herring/ad hominem substitute for having an actual argument that I’ve seen in a while. Try to be less of a buffoon, mmmkay?

  18. says

    But in wars, especially long ones, the total body count is not dominated by those directly killed.

    He’s a tribal nationalist, apparently. You’ll notice how he only counts killed (because displaced people don’t matter, right?) and attempts a false equivalency to excuse Israel’s monstrous actions – after all if Israel isn’t as bad as Syria then I guess Israel is OK in the weird mind of slc1.

  19. says

    @Marcus Ranum:

    There was no doubt tunnel-vision, artificially restricting the options for ending the war that were considered. But that’s an argument that the decisions made by the US were wrong, not that they were not made for the stated reasons. Notice what I said: “US plans for the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, had very wide ranges in the expected number of causalities” That is not disputable. You can dispute that either an invasion of Japan or the bombing campaign would have been or were justified.
    _
    Also note something scary: the tunnel-vision was on both sides. The Japanese military was committed to making a conventional invasion fight for every square meter, even with the horrifically high body count that would have for the civilian population, so that the cost to the Allies would be so high that they would give better terms in an armistice.

  20. says

    Yet such a waiting game would have undoubtedly killed more Japanese people… That was the thing. It forced a rapid surrender.

    And considering the madness of Samurai Culture and it’s effect on throwing away early Japanese victories on pointless bravery rather than utilising defence in depth?

  21. says

    If the allies had offered the Emperor a conditional surrender, the war would have ended after Iwo Jima.

    What the allies wanted to do was “carthago, delenda” on Japan – destroying Japanese culture and turning it into an economic colony. This had nothing to do with successful prosecution and conclusion of the war; they wanted Japan completely supine, and they controlled the “options” that were considered based on that.

    It’s reasonable and entertaining to argue about the use of nuclear weapons on Japan, but everything followed from the demand for unconditional surrender. Since the allies had decided on collective punishment and culturecide for Japan, they could have starved the country out with a blockade and disruption of food supplies by air (the air over Japan was effectively undefended) there was no need to invade at all; Japan was no longer able to prosecute a war and everyone (especially the Japanese) knew it. That the US high command chose to convince itself that an invasion was necessary says a lot about them, but nothing about Japan’s ability to effectively defend itself further.

  22. says

    @slc1:

    You are incorrect about the availability of additional bombs. X-Day had been set for November 1, 1945. 7 nukes were to have been available and deployed for use by that time; 1 ready by August 19, 3 in September and 3 in October. Following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the third bomb was to be airlifted from Kirtland Field outside Albuquerque on August 12 and shipped to Tinian in the Marianas to be used the next week (in a bombing run on Tokyo, weather permitting). While the core was being packaged for transport at Los Alamos, the initial surrender offer from the Japanese arrived and the shipment was stopped.

  23. says

    Yet such a waiting game would have undoubtedly killed more Japanese people… That was the thing. It forced a rapid surrender.

    That’s insane, Avicenna. You’re arguing that horribly killing a couple hundred thousand people was doing them a favor? One of the reasons starvation and blockade has been used as a primary weapon of warfare is not simply that it works, but that it very very quickly destroys the authority of command. Nothing demonstrates your helplessness more completely and quickly than when your food supply goes away. Nothing degrades the effectiveness of your military more completely and rapidly than when your troops are eating their leather goods and hunting rats instead of digging trenches.

    There is a huge huge difference between these negotiating strategies:
    – “Talk to us, let’s make a deal, and we’ll let the food through”
    – <> “Now that we’ve killed a fuckload of you, are you ready to talk?”

    As you get hungrier, your willingness to negotiate goes up. As you suddenly die in nuclear fire, your ability to negotiate goes to zero.

    And considering the madness of Samurai Culture and it’s effect on throwing away early Japanese victories on pointless bravery rather than utilising defence in depth?

    Now you sound like Sam Harris and those bigots who are claiming that muslims are all crazy nihilists who long for death. Do you realize how insulting and stupid that is? First off, before you say something like that, you should understand a bit about samurai culture and bushido, as well as Japanese history. For one thing, the samurai were the Japanese 1% (less than 1% really) the majority of Japanese were not steeped in bushido, nor (for that matter) were anything but a fanatical minority of samurai willing to commit suicide for the cause. The reason that Japanese culture remembers characters like Mishima or Kusunoki Masahige is because they were historical outliers – the root of samurai culture was that charging to a dramatic death as a way of chiding your liege lord for incompetence (or choosing to die out of despair) was rare. And while I’m at it, let me break another fact on you: the ancient Romans didn’t go around running on their swords all that often, either.

    I’m too ignorant of Indian culture to come up with something comparably stupid with what you just said about the Japanese, but I’m pretty sure if you thought about it, you could. What you said there was pretty embarrassing. I suggest that if you want to keep making ignorant assertions about samurai culture you should read a bit about Japanese history and not base your cultural assumptions on chambarra movies or Akira Kurosawa movies.* If you want a reading-list, let me know.

    (* Some of Kurosawa’s movies, such as “seven samurai”, do deal beautifully with some aspects of samurai culture. I suggest you watch it twice, especially the scene where Kurosawa digs deep into the rifts between samurai society and the peasantry in the scene where Kikochiyo collects the armor from the peasants. Absolutely do not make assumptions about samurai culture from movies like “harakiri” or “sword of doom” – the director in both those movies was making very acerbic social commentary about the divisions in Japanese culture. Japan by the time the militarists took over looked more like the Japan presented in “twilight samurai” than anything else. And you should understand that the reason Mishima was famous was because he was crazy. Imagine if Glenn Beck committed seppuku on television to show how serious he was. Yes – Mishima was about as far out on the edge of the culture as Beck. Do not base your understanding of samurai culture on the lunatic fringe. It would be like me assuming all Indians are like Gandhi. Got it?)

  24. says

    it’s effect on throwing away early Japanese victories on pointless bravery rather than utilising defence in depth?

    There were many serious military commanders in Japan who knew that Japan really had only one chance in the war, which was to hit the US very hard, take some crucial ground and hold it, then sue for terms. Yamamoto was, indeed, following the bushido tradition when he undertook a war that he was pretty sure Japan would lose, and did the best he could with it. But that was an eminently rational decision because Yamamoto could also see the writing on the wall for Japan – they were already being blockaded for oil and gas and metal; Japan does not have the natural resources to fight the US. It wasn’t samurai foolishness – it was a calculated strategy of what our pentagon idiots would call “shock and awe” and it had maybe a 20% chance of working (at best) and, sure enough, it didn’t. There were probably a few ultranationalist idiots who believed that the war was going well, but when the highest commander of the Japanese Navy was expressing doubts prior to attacking Pearl Harbor you need to recontextualize your understanding of what was going on. The US, England, and USSR were all embargoing Japan (which means English colonies like Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong were also in it) – the Japanese were resorting to wood-burning taxis in Tokyo, their gas shortage was so severe.

    This is how the situation played out:
    – Suppose you are about to go into a boxing match with Mike Tyson
    – Tyson will beat the shit out of you
    – If you try to run, someone will drag you back and throw you in the ring
    – Then Tyson will beat the shit out of you
    – Tyson has said he will not negotiate unless he has first beaten the shit out of you
    I guess yeah, you might be a crazy samurai and charge in there and try to plant a couple good punches before you get the shit beaten out of you.

    Except for the fact that we killed Yamamoto (so he wasn’t around to advocate) the US could have probably begun negotiating a surrender with terms after the battle of Midway. Certainly after the Coral Sea. By the time Slim had hammered the Japanese in Burma, the Russians had stomped them flat in China, and the US had taken Guadalcanal, anyone in the Japanese command who had a brain knew it was over. The problem was that Mike Tyson had already told them it wasn’t over until they got the shit beaten out of them. Do you see how that kind of “carthago, delenda” declaration can serve to prolong a war? The way to peace is de-escalation. Instead, our whole approach was to put the screws to the Japanese tighter and tighter.

    And, yes, I think racism played a part in it; the Germans got horribly pounded by the USSR troops but (other than the East) did not get culture-cided.

  25. says

    Starvation only works when the army starves. Otherwise we would have beaten North Korea a fair while ago.

    And even with starvation many Japanese units fought on. On handfuls of maggotty rice. Given a stale mate Japan would have sorted it’s food problem out and carried on much like North Korea..

    The Japanese army had this very bizarre notion of fighting spirit rather than skill and often fought with bizarre human wave attacks even when they knew it was pointless. There were a handful of commanders who valued modern tactics as seen on Okinawa but the vast majority bought into either Samurai logic or some sort of twisted version of it during the 1930s to 40s.

    In fact Okinawa was a shock because that didn’t happen.

  26. says

    Okay, but North Korea was still starved. To the tune of “2/3rds of it’s population are under famine”. And it still isn’t willing to surrender.

    The fact remains that it would have taken millions of deaths of Japanese citizens for the army to surrender. The behaviour of the Japanese army pre-surrender from the Great Six and the Emperor would have extended the war. To the point the Great Six had to meet in secret lest the Army arrested them.

  27. says

    The fact remains that it would have taken millions of deaths of Japanese citizens for the army to surrender.

    That is not a fact, that’s your opinion, and I think it’s wrong. So do lots of other people – most of whom are probably in possession of more detailed knowledge about the history of the fall of Japan than you appear to be. I have attempted to offer some arguments regarding alternative possibilities but you appear to be invested in that assertion. I don’t think you’ll budge from it, but I suspect that if you would if you studied the problem with a bit of skepticism applied to the assertions of those who were also invested in seeing their decisions as right and the only options.

  28. says

    PS – North Korea was bombed flat. Curtis LeMay’s bomber command “serviced every target” in North Korea for 6 months following the armistice. North Korea was incapable of resistance, but if the US had put troops up there instead of bombers, they would have had to deal with China, and that was a much more intractable problem.

    The starvation came decades later and has been a result of blockade and failed internal policies. The blockade is not currently attempting to starve out North Korea, though food is being used as a weapon. There hasn’t been an attempt to get North Korea to surrender – when China got involved in the war, that became a non-option. I am certain that the North Korean government would not exist today if China had not intervened to protect its client to keep it as a buffer state.

  29. slc1 says

    Re Michaelbush @ #22

    Excuse me, on Sept. 9 1945, it is my information that there was 1 bomb available after the test at Alamogordo and the the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Almost 2 months later, there would have been more but 2 months is a long time. Would the American people have been willing to wait another 2 months if the Japanese Army had taken over the government and refused to surrender? The fact is that bomb 2 was dropped on Sept 9 and the Japanese surrendered 2 days later. Everything else is conterfactual history which is an interesting intellectual exercise but ultimately fictional and Monday morning quarterbacking to boot.

    For instance, suppose the Germans had built 50 Uboats instead of the Bismarck and the Tirpitz. They very well might have starved Britain out of the war in 1940. Then, no side shows in Greece, Yugoslavia, and North Africa allowing the Germans to throw everything against the Former Soviet Union in 1941. They might well have eliminated the Former Soviet Union in 1941, thus winning the war in Europe. They came perilously close as it was.

    Suppose the Union General at Martinsburg had done his job in 1861 and fixed Johnston’s army in place at that location. Then no reinforcement of Beauregard’s army at Manassas and thence an almost certain Union victory there. Thence, the incompetent McClellan would not have been called to Washington and McDowell would have been retained in command of the Union forces around Washington. Whatever his deficiencies, McDowell’s sound battle plan at Manassas proved him to be greatly superior to McClellan as a field commander; the latter was totally incapable in that position. Without the succession of incompetent commanders in the Army of the Potomac, the Civil War might have ended a year earlier.

    Yes, counterfactual history is an interesting exercise but, in war, there is no such thing as a sure thing so something could always have gone wrong in the counterfactual.

    Re Marcus Ranum @ #29

    The evidence of Japanese resistance at, say Iwo, Jima, indicates that Japanese soldiers were prepared to fight until almost the last man. Compare the number of Japanese troops that surrendered in WW2 against the number of German troops that surrendered. Consider the Kamikazes. The Japanese considered it dishonorable to surrender. IMHO, if the Army had taken over the government in September of 1945, they would have fought furiously and I don’t believe that an invasion could have been avoided.

  30. says

    @slc1:

    There was one active nuke available at the time of the Japanese surrender. The expectation was for 3 more bombs to be available during September and 3 in October. Again, at the time of the surrender, the third bomb was being prepared for transport. A fourth bomb was partially assembled but not quite ready. A new bomb would have been usable roughly every 10-14 days.

    You are correct that the likely effects of the use of those bombs is strictly alternate history. But they were available.

  31. says

    And considering the madness of Samurai Culture and it’s effect on throwing away early Japanese victories on pointless bravery rather than utilising defence in depth?

    This is jackassery and propaganda from WWII. Bushido was not some mythical wellspring from which all that is Japanese filled the hearts and souls of the Japanese people. It was an outdated code of honor that applied to former Japanese nobility and that was paid lip-service to and at most nominally respected in practice by Japanese people. One might as well say that the average British citizen would take up sword and shield, for Queen and Country! and all that nonsense had hitler made landfall, because Chivalric Culture was madness and was such a major aspect of the country’s history and…

    Heck, that applies even better to France (Who despite modern Meriken ribbing, has historically been rather dangerously aggressive – overly much so, possibly), since France actually was invaded, and there were no death marches of kniggit wannabes by peasants who’d never felt particularly connected to chivalric codes. Also, again, Japan was offering a surrender on attractive terms. Even if we pretend the bushido-is-the-soul-of-Japanese-Men jackassery (And there’s no reason to, because there’s no empirical evidence for it, and also they were surrendering, which is a thing that happened in their historical wars, which happened well before WWII), they were still offering a more or less comprehensive surrender well before the atom bombs. There was absolutely no reason for them. We’ve spent decades playing pretend we had to.

    For god’s sake, the propaganda doesn’t even make sense when you step back and think about it. If you’re actually dealing with supermen who view death as a positive and can’t be made to fear anything but shame, it makes no sense to wield fear of death as your primary weapon.

  32. slc1 says

    Re michaelbusch @ #32

    OK, here’s another counterfactual: Remember that the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine after delivering the Hiroshima bomb. There was nothing to prevent ships delivering subsequent bombs from being sunk before delivery. can’t be ruled out.

  33. slc1 says

    Re Marcus Ranum

    Actually, North Korea had been defeated by MacArthur’s forces after shortly after the Inchon landing. The mistake that was made was that MacArthur’s forces advanced to the Yalu River, despite intelligence reports that China would intervene if that happened. MacArthur poo pooed the intelligence reports, telling Truman that, in his considered opinion, they were wrong. Given the fact that MacArthur had been right about the Inchon landing, which was unanimously opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Truman came to have an exaggerated opinion of MacArthur’s military judgment and approved the strategy, a decision he later came to regret.

  34. says

    There is a massive elephant in the room and that elephant is that the moderate and liberal muslims have no onus and no voice to stand up and simply cut out the cancer that is fundamentalist Islam.

    This is the liberal fallacy, that fundamentalists are only some minority in islama The fact is that the doctrine that is islam IS fundamentalist. Ask a muslim if you doubt this, “Do you believe the koran is the PERFECT word of god?” The answer reveals the truth: the spectrum by which one measures being a good or poor muslim rests on exactly how closely one adhere to koranic teaching. This is not true in judaism or christianity or hinduism where interpretation plays a mitigating role to create the spectrum of fundamentalist to liberal followers. Islam contains no such wiggle room, no means to moderate, no doctrinal interpretation. Islam is a fundamentalist religion because of this, so it creates a very large pool of recruits from which to draw those willing to commit extreme actions in its name.

    The sooner those of us in western liberal secular democracies understand this fact about islam, the sooner we can put a stop to excusing and forgiving and tolerating the promotion (and even public funding) of this incompatible religion that directly challenges and conflicts with the foundational secular values of our democracies (like individual rights and freedoms and dignity of personhood, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equality laws, and so forth).

  35. DutchA says

    Sometimes it seems there can only be one way out of the misery caused by religion. Not, not by killing the Dutch, but by giving/restoring the rights women should have had long ago.

    Regarding the use of the atomic bombs on Japan to force a quick surrender:
    My mother and grandmother were held in a concentration camp in the Dutch Indies during WWII. My grandfather was forced to work on the Burma-Siam rail road. They all maintained that without the use of he atomic bomb they very probably wouldn’t have survived. Mortally rates were steadily increasing due to undernourishment, torture, diseases like typhoid, and the increasing use of violence by the Japanese camp personnel.

  36. otranreg says

    Which they were willing to fight to the death and throw into blind attacks with.

    All this spirit and willingness to die is bullshit, and thinking that it would somehow have had given them an edge and inflicted their enemies loads of casualties is the underdog sports movie mentality. Doesn’t really happen. What really matters is organisation, preparation, supply and weaponry, none of which the Japanese had by that time.

    All of the comparatively difficult landings (‘comparatively’, since the US losses weren’t really that massive, and well within the norm, considering the size of the forces involved, the era and the type of the operations) on small Japanese-held islands included the four elements for the defenders. If you can prepare, if you have heavy weaponry, if you have a skilled officer corps — bam, you get yourself a well-entrenched infantry, minefields covered by pillboxes, artillery and mortars zeroed-in on each dangerous spot, and food and ammo to hold out.

    Without these you can’t do much militarily. Sure, you can send civilians with sticks to be mowed down by American machineguns and artillery (who will only sustain casualties from illnesses and friendly fire at that), will you have enough people who can actually agree to order them around and have the skill to do it?

    And the Invasion of Manchuria occured after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That was a land grab for the Soviets.

    No, the nuclear bombings were conducted to coincide with the Soviet declaration of war. This ‘land grab’ was planned since Yalta Conference (and was to begin exactly three months after the capitulation of Germany, and did). And this ‘land grab’ routed a 1.2 million Japanese army and finished off its satellites on mainland — all battle-ready land power that they had left.

    Nuclear bombings at the same time had a dubious effect on the peace negotiations, it’s not like they were the worst in the conflict and by far not the only (cue for Operation Meetinghouse), and the US Air Force had plenty of assets and experience to burn a couple of cities with worse outcomes for the Japanese. The nukes just needed a test run on live subjects, and the US Government just needed to show off its brand new atomic dick and make sure that everyone knew who was gonna be calling the shots since then.

    And if you’re thinking in terms of a last stand, it’s the loss of the last army you have that you should be concerned about, not the loss of a bunch of civvies — there are plenty more to go.

    Hiroshima was one of the biggest industrial centres in Japan and the site of a Military HQ.

    Nagasaki was home to Mitsubishi Heavy industries ShipBuilders and the largest Naval Anchorage in Japan along with a Naval District

    First, neither of the cities were unique: both bombings had a number of possible targets, and in fact Nagasaki was an alternative chosen at the last moment due to bad weather.

    Second, excuse me, in a densely populated industrialised militarist-governed country in 1940s, especially in a country that was continually increasing its war effort over almost a decade, any attack on any large city could be justified by military installations in it.

  37. says

    @slc1:
    The evidence of Japanese resistance at, say Iwo, Jima, indicates that Japanese soldiers were prepared to fight until almost the last man.

    I addressed that, above. That Japanese soldiers were willing to fight hard (once they had been positioned in what Sun Tzu would call “death ground” – cut off, out of supply, and aware that they were all that stood between the US forces and their homeland) isn’t surprising. But by the time they were done dying hard, there wasn’t much of a Japanese army left. There was barely a Japanese airforce. The Japanese navy was in the process of becoming a coral reef.

    The idea that Japanese civilians, green levied troops, and wounded veterans would have offered a significant resistance to the incredibly battle-hardened and experienced US troops – is beyond laughable. The Japanese homeland defenses would have put up about as good a fight as the Volkssturm and Hitler Youth did against the Red Guards in Germany. I.e.: Bambi versus Godzilla.

    It’s clear that the propaganda of “we had to nuke them to save lives” has worked and taken hold so well that even ‘skeptics’ cling to it. If those skeptics knew a fucking thing about how wars are fought, they probably would realize they’d been fooled. I’m amazed that there are people posting facts (repeatedly) in this thread yet the the response is, over and over, lame assertions of “it was necessary.” You’ve even got intelligent commenators like Avicenna arguing both sides, i.e.: Samurai culture caused the Japanese to make a hash of their early gains while simultaneously Samurai culture would have made grandmothers and children unbeatable defenders of their homeland. Give me a fucking break, which is it?

    (That last paragraph is not aimed at slc1, I do not expect him to defend someone else’s braindamaged statements. He makes enough of his own.)

  38. says

    They all maintained that without the use of he atomic bomb they very probably wouldn’t have survived. Mortally rates were steadily increasing due to undernourishment, torture, diseases like typhoid, and the increasing use of violence by the Japanese camp personnel.

    Think how many more of them might have survived if the war had been ended when the Japanese started suing for peace – which was before the nukes were dropped. Mmmm?

    One possiblity, which was never examined because the allies wanted “unconditional surrender” was a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges, and a negotiated surrender. If that had failed, the war could have resumed. Japan had no industrial base, air force, or navy left to fight with There was plenty of time to negotiate.

  39. sundoga says

    Comment submitted:
    Marcus Ranum, you are wrong. The Japanese forces would have fought to the last man. Worse, large percentages of their population would have done the same in the case of an invasion of the home islands. You do not understand the psychology of the people involved. There was combination there of religious fanaticism, social overpressure and government propaganda that taught the Japanese people that the only valid response to the presence of an enemy was to kill and die. The US had three options. Blockade, invade, or bomb. Blockade would have eventually worked…after quite literally millions of Japanese people were dead. Thousands died of starvation as it was, and that was with the allies moving as much food into the home islands after the surrender as they could. An invasion would have involved the deaths of thousands, hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of allied servicemen, and DEFINITELY millions of Japanese. They WOULD have fought – with rocks, pointy sticks, and obsolete weapons, but they WOULD have fought. And died, in droves. The slogan that was drilled into the populace, over and over, was “You may not die until you have killed an American.” My translation may not be perfect, but it shows exactly what was meant. The nuclear weapon scenario was the least destructive (considerable less so that the firebombing of Tokyo, for example), most compassionate method to force the surrender. Japan COULD NOT, for political and social reasons, surrender to the obviously greater force of the United States. But it could surrender to a great, unknown, and terrifying new weapon. Psychology does not inform only one side of this war. The USA was also limited by it’s own psychology, and, by this time, fanaticism – they COULD NOT have accepted a negotiated settlement. The political situation had become such that the leadership literally could not make that decision. Had President Truman attempted it, I believe Congress would have removed him from office. There was not plenty of time to negotiate. There was never a real chance of negotiation.

  40. sundoga says

    My apology for the wall of text above. The board seems to have deleted all of my paragraphing. Take two:
    Marcus Ranum, you are wrong.
    The Japanese forces would have fought to the last man. Worse, large percentages of their population would have done the same in the case of an invasion of the home islands.
    You do not understand the psychology of the people involved. There was combination there of religious fanaticism, social overpressure and government propaganda that taught the Japanese people that the only valid response to the presence of an enemy was to kill and die.
    The US had three options. Blockade, invade, or bomb. Blockade would have eventually worked…after quite literally millions of Japanese people were dead. Thousands died of starvation as it was, and that was with the allies moving as much food into the home islands after the surrender as they could.
    An invasion would have involved the deaths of thousands, hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of allied servicemen, and DEFINITELY millions of Japanese. They WOULD have fought – with rocks, pointy sticks, and obsolete weapons, but they WOULD have fought. And died, in droves. The slogan that was drilled into the populace, over and over, was “You may not die until you have killed an American.” My translation may not be perfect, but it shows exactly what was meant.
    The nuclear weapon scenario was the least destructive (considerable less so than the firebombing of Tokyo, for example), most compassionate method to force the surrender. Japan COULD NOT, for political and social reasons, surrender to the obviously greater force of the United States. But it could surrender to a great, unknown, and terrifying new weapon.
    Psychology does not inform only one side of this war. The USA was also limited by it’s own psychology, and, by this time, fanaticism – they COULD NOT have accepted a negotiated settlement. The political situation had become such that the leadership literally could not make that decision. Had President Truman attempted it, I believe Congress would have removed him from office.
    There was not plenty of time to negotiate. There was never a real chance of negotiation.

  41. says

    Can someone explain to me why, if Samurai always fight to the death and only fear shame, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had the forces to actually lead an assault on Korea after he finished unifying the country? One would think he’d have to exterminate every defeated clan to the last samurai.

    You do not understand the psychology of the people involved. There was combination there of religious fanaticism, social overpressure and government propaganda that taught the Japanese people that the only valid response to the presence of an enemy was to kill and die.

    Which is why the government was suing for peace and surrender.

    Do you people listen to yourselves? The racist stupidity coming out of your mouths… you think Germany, or for that matter, Britain or the USA, were under different circumstances?

    The US had three options. Blockade, invade, or bomb. Blockade would have eventually worked…after quite literally millions of Japanese people were dead. Thousands died of starvation as it was, and that was with the allies moving as much food into the home islands after the surrender as they could.

    Option 4: Talk to the Japanese government, who was offering to surrender.

  42. says

    Their offer to surrender was to maintain the status quo of a system that had caused more deaths than Nazi Germany. It also involved amnesty for war crimes and to keep Korea and Manchuria and the parts of South East Asia they still had.

  43. sundoga says

    In answer to you, Rutee Katreya:

    In the period you’re talking about, of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wars, the Bushido code was not as it was later; nor was the effective caste system that would develop during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Among other things, the Ashigaru (foot soldiers) were, in this period, considered a warrior caste, a status they would largely lose under the Tokugawa.
    The code that existed during the period prior to the Tokugawa Shogunate was considerably more practical. Samurai were valuable resources in troubled times – it made more sense to negotiate such things as prisoner exchanges and honorable withdrawals than require your expensive, well-trained and hard to replace elite troops to fight to the death. There was still a stain of dishonor in being captured, but a Samurai’s Daimyo would have preferred him to erase that stain through valor on the battlefield rather than through seppuku.
    Further, even in the most hard-core traditionalist interpretations of Bushido, loyalty and obedience to one’s superior counted higher than personal honor. Thus, Hideyoshi did not have to defeat the Samurai – he had only to convince their Daimyo to surrender. And the Daimyo, in all the periods of Japan’s history, tended to be somewhat more practical people than the Samurai they ruled.
    Further, the Bushido code promoted by the mlitary-backed government of the 1940s took the most extreme variations of the original Bushido and dialled it up to eleven. Remember that by that time, there would have been few if any still-living Samurai, trained in the old code. Instead, the government propaganda masters pushed certain, select parts of it – such as death before surrender – while ignoring the brighter aspects, such as the celebration of art and value of culture.
    In short, things changed, and comparing an earlier period to a later one without understanding the innate differences between tham, is less than useful.
    As to the “peace” offering sent by the Japanese government, since when is it any surprise that a government would feel free to do what it forbids it’s subjects? Hypocrisy and government always go hand in hand.
    And clearly, you don’t know anything about Japan’s “offer”. It was not IN ANY WAY an offer of surender; rather, it was an entreaty to negotiate an end to the war…and largely leave Japan with it’s overseas empire intact, and leadership in place. As I noted above, the US of the time was quite incapable of accepting such an offer, even assuming the US knew of it…which it almost certainly didn’t, as the Soviets never passed on the information. The Soviets had no interest in doing so, since they were preparing to invade Japanese-held Manchuria.
    And it is in no way racist to speak the truth. You have NO understanding of Japanese culture prior to World War Two – you only have a bunch of assumptions, and most of them are wrong. Comparing their culture to that of the US, Germany and the UK of the time is not only highly inaccurate, but frankly I think is quite racist in itself. Japan had a rich, powerful and in many ways admiarable society that was quite different to any western one, with dramatically differing values and beliefs. Unfortunately, during World War Two, we saw the dark side of that culture – while, admittedly, showing many aspects of the dark side of our own. Frankly, unless you can do something about your eurocentric bias here, I don’t think you’re ever going to understand just why Japan did what it did.
    And finally, Japan was NOT offering to surrender. And the US COULD NOT, because of it’s own biases and cultural imperatives, accept less.

  44. says

    Their offer to surrender was to maintain the status quo of a system that had caused more deaths than Nazi Germany. It also involved amnesty for war crimes and to keep Korea and Manchuria and the parts of South East Asia they still had.

    A negotiating party asks for more than they think they’ll get? shocker. So now you’re admitting there was a negotiating table? Oh, and fyi, that ‘system’ would have no army to work with, no supplies to remake the engines of a modern warfare machine, and would end up subordinate to the USA regardless. As to war crimes, why the fuck shouldn’t they at least ask? The USA granted it to itself. FFS, their primary goal was to maintain an at least figurehead emperor. And they got that by surrendering. Diplomacy: You rarely ask for what you’re going to get as the vastly weaker party.

    I still want to hear how you terrorize people who feel no fear of death, with the fear of death. Because in my book, trying that would be fucking stupid. It’s almost as if it weren’t true, yo.

    In the period you’re talking about, of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his wars, the Bushido code was not as it was later; nor was the effective caste system that would develop during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Among other things, the Ashigaru (foot soldiers) were, in this period, considered a warrior caste, a status they would largely lose under the Tokugawa.

    Stick to a single argument, mealy-mouth. Is it that he had access to peasant levies (Which basically never stopped happening, fyi, it was just minimized to varying degrees) or that bushido was a pretty bog-standard warrior code? Hint: It’s the latter.

    Further, the Bushido code promoted by the mlitary-backed government of the 1940s took the most extreme variations of the original Bushido and dialled it up to eleven. Remember that by that time, there would have been few if any still-living Samurai, trained in the old code. Instead, the government propaganda masters pushed certain, select parts of it – such as death before surrender – while ignoring the brighter aspects, such as the celebration of art and value of culture.

    ‘propaganda masters’. Yes, such masters never before seen in the other WWII powers, what with everyone doing the same bullshit, best case studies being Britain and Germany. Somehow, the German people did not march millions of civilians to the battlefield. More than zero? Yes, just as Britain had some civilians preparing for the same. The millions necessary to justify the atom bomb on 2 cities? Not even close. And the Japanese were far more destroyed by bombing campaigns than Germany had by the time we were even thinking of it. And there were military formations we could have struck with an A. Bomb…

    As to the “peace” offering sent by the Japanese government, since when is it any surprise that a government would feel free to do what it forbids it’s subjects?
    You collosally racist fuckwit. It’s not about what the subjects are ‘allowed’ to do. If you’re going to insist that the new bushido turned the Japanese people into an embodiment of all that is japanese, erasing their fear of death and replacing it with only a fear of shame (Which it didn’t, because Japanese people are human), then one would expect this of the top brass as well. Except it didn’t work. Because the japanese people were ultimately still human, and while you can train troops to act in dangerous or sometimes suicidal ways (Else the charges up Normandy would have been flatly impossible), ordinary civilians just don’t work that way. People were scared, hungry, and tired.

    And it is in no way racist to speak the truth.

    “Making shit up” is not synonymous with ‘The truth’, and that’s all this bullshit is.

    You have NO understanding of Japanese culture prior to World War Two – you only have a bunch of assumptions, and most of them are wrong.

    This is kinda cute, and also, ‘the Japanese people were still human’ is not much of an assumption.

    Comparing their culture to that of the US, Germany and the UK of the time is not only highly inaccurate,

    I don’t care about their ultranationalist period while they were winning. Anyone can say “We will fight to the last” and ‘mean’ it while they’re not under serious threat. And historically, anyone has. Also, for fuck’s sake, do you not remember the British or German propaganda? Or the Soviets? While on the figurative ropes, all of them talked about sacrificing their own lives and avoiding surrender. The only one who might have come particularly close was Stalin.

    but frankly I think is quite racist in itself.

    Yeah, treating people like humans and not inventing bullshit divides is totes racist. You’ve discovered my dastardly game.

    And finally, Japan was NOT offering to surrender

    “We’ll stop fighting, you win” is a surrender when it was done by white people.

    And the US COULD NOT, because of it’s own biases and cultural imperatives, accept less.

    You mean because they were racist fucks who had political agendas and no concern for the welfare of non-white people? Welcome to my fuckin’ argument. Why are you fucking defending racist fucks who had no concern with the welfare of non-white people, anyway?

  45. says

    Declaring that a country must surrender unconditionally is nothing more than collective punishment.

    Actually, if it ends the war, then it’s an END to “collective punishment.”

    The truth of the matter is that the US was ready to do anything to Japan except try diplomacy.

    We were trying diplomacy when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

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