Thursday 19 December 2002

Why Hiroshima Was Bombed: The 'Utopians' Duped a Nation

"The United States decision to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved over one million American lives which would have been sacrificed by an invasion of Japan."

How often has this claim been restated whenever that horrendous event is mentioned on TV or in newspapers. And yet, it remains to this day a total fiction. Not only the figure of "one million"—which was gratuituously added in the cover story published later to enhance the much lower figures actually predicted by the War Department had the United States been forced to invade Japan—but even the lower, more accurate estimates, represented a complete fallacy. There would have been no casualties in a land invasion of Japan because there would not have been any land invasion of Japan. By mid-May 1945 it was clear to all who wished to see: Japan was on the brink of surrendering.

It is the merit of Gar Alperovitz's work that he documented the facts available as of 1995 by using the then-latest declassified records from the war period. The real purpose of the atomic bomb was not to win the war, but rather to shape the contours of the post-war world. Alperowitz had an entire team working the files on this subject, with excellent results. The "team" aspect of the work leads, however, to a good deal of repetition. The recent biography by Robert Norris of one of the key players in that policy decision, Gen. Leslie Groves, helps to fill out the picture of the real scope and purposes of the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japanese cities.

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