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Thread: The morality of bombing civilians

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Comancheria View Post
    Flying into Tokyo from the East, you see a long, curving beach—at least 20 miles long. When our plane flew over it, a chill went up my spine—that was the beach McArthur had assigned himself for the landing. Bloodbath.

    Check out what they Japan did in Singapore and Nanking.

    My mother was a liberal Democrat until her death at 93. But she and her twin sister were standing on the Arizona Memorial with their husbands when a group of Japanese tourists came aboard, laughing and taking pictures. My aunt said something appropriate to their behavior and they looked over

    “Be quiet, Sister—they understand us,” my Mom said.

    My aunt replied: “I don’t give a damn, Sister—I’ve hated them since 1941 and I hate them now.”

    I’m sure these folks were good people—but their inappropriate laughter would not have been tolerated if American tourists were whooping it up and hurrahing in front of the Hiroshima memorial.
    There's <a href="http://archive.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/">evidence to suggest</a> that the bigger reason Japan surrendered in World War II was fear of a Russian invasion of their home islands (Russia invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria on the same day we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki).

    In any case, there was no reason to invade Japan in August of 1945. They were no longer a threat to us, and most of their cities were piles of rubble. Had the Russians not entered the war against Japan then, we could have just blockaded Japan. Officially amending our unconditional surrender demands to allow them to keep their emperor (which we ended up doing anyway), might have encouraged them to surrender as well.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Might look into that. We're planning some non-training topics.
    Perhaps people will be more open to having these discussions soon. People lack philosophical foundation to their thinking, so they look to their party for instructions on "complex" topics like war.

    War is real simple:


    It's a helluva thing, killing a man. You take away all he's got...and all he's ever gonna have.

  3. #13
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    I've never really even entertained the idea that the WW2 bombing campaigns were immoral

    I think it's complicated at the very least.

    Japan was beaten. They knew it, and they knew we knew it. Our top generals all said they were beaten and that it was unnecessary. Japan had already attempted to sue for peace, with the only condition that they could keep their emperor, to save face. We said no, bombed them, incinerated their civilian population and gave them lasting generational deformities, then bombed them again for the hell of it. Then ended up letting them keep their emperor anyways.

    As far as fire bombing Germany, the Germans refrained from bombing civilian targets in the hope of a gentleman's agreement, but we decided to go down that road.

    I don't think we should have been involved in the wars at all to begin with, so perhaps I am biased in that regards, but I don't think what we did was moral.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpinsen View Post
    There's <a rel="nofollow" href="http://archive.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/">evidence to suggest</a> that the bigger reason Japan surrendered in World War II was fear of a Russian invasion of their home islands (Russia invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria on the same day we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki).

    In any case, there was no reason to invade Japan in August of 1945. They were no longer a threat to us, and most of their cities were piles of rubble. Had the Russians not entered the war against Japan then, we could have just blockaded Japan. Officially amending our unconditional surrender demands to allow them to keep their emperor (which we ended up doing anyway), might have encouraged them to surrender as well.
    I think you're not taking into account how much of a "to the bitter end" culture there was pervasive in Japan and especially their military at the time. There were guys out in the wilderness years later who thought the war was still on, and continued as though it was, refusing to actually stand down until people dug up their old commanding officers to tell them to their face the war was over. I also suspect Russia anticipated coming into competition with the US after the war as much as the US did. They probably would not have been willing to just ease our burden in invading Japan to do all the heavy fighting while the Pacific fleet got to sit back and blockade.

  5. #15
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    You may.be right, dpinsen—with regard to military strategy. However, with respect, I think you are ignoring two realities—both political:

    First, by the end of the War, the US was becoming extremely wary of the Soviet Union in a postwar World.

    Second and more importantly, the US population wanted more than a blockade—if you get my drift.

    Whatever the military considerations, the American People would not have settled for anything less than bringing Japan to its knees—period.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJdd View Post
    As far as fire bombing Germany, the Germans refrained from bombing civilian targets in the hope of a gentleman's agreement, but we decided to go down that road.
    Have you ever heard of London?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Comancheria View Post

    Whatever the military considerations, the American People would not have settled for anything less than bringing Japan to its knees—period.
    Which is as it should be.
    What's more, the idea that Japan was beaten to the point they could hardly retaliate, did not mean that the could not retaliate. There is always a sense of altruistic proportional response, that using nuclear weapons is overkill and that a blockade would have been sufficient because the threat was more, or less over. This does not take into account that a blockade puts the lives of servicemen at risk. If Nagasaki and Hiroshima saved one single American causality then it was morally justified, to have not done everything necessary to save that one casualty would have been grievously immoral.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Have you ever heard of London?
    And many of the other cities of Britain, can we say Coventry?

    Did a search on “cities Germany bomb during WW2” First page was Allied bombings, it wasn't until I searched "The Blitz" that I found any hits on Germany's bombing of British cities. Strange how we focus on what we did and ignore what the other side did that caused our response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nockian View Post
    Europe, by contrast, had no excuse for what it did to itself in the First World War -we haven't yet come to terms with it. The continuation of that war was inevitable and with it came the first mass bombing of civilians. 'Bomber' Harris and the men of bomber command have been ostracised for decades and have only recently been grudgingly accepted as war heroes-though not Harris, who is still considered close to a genocididal maniac by many.
    I would say he is considered a genocidal maniac by the anti-war fringe. Most people would consider him a hero who had to do an unpleasant task when Britain was facing an existential threat. A memorial was even opened to bomber command in 2012 RAF Bomber Command Memorial - Wikipedia

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Have you ever heard of London?
    Well, yeah.

    But actually, you’re wasting your breath, Rip. What were just a hundred-thousand or so civilian casualties—with 43,000 dead in the blitz? What the allies should have done was to let the War drag on another year—allowing Hitler to scoop up what few of Europe’s Jews remained alive for his gas chambers and crematoria! As it was, he “only” accounted for six million. FDR and Churchill knew about the death camps—but recognized that the only way to bring the Holocaust to an end was to end the War.

    Or maybe we could have airdropped a few hundred university students behind enemy lines in both Germany and on Honshu—to demonstrate against the atrocities—and convince Axis leaders to mend their naughty ways!

    Whatta we want?
    Peace!
    When do we want it?
    NOW!

    That would have done the trick!

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