tv Lectures in History CSPAN August 26, 2014 8:30pm-9:26pm EDT
elections really viable because we were the ones that served as election judges, we were the ones that distributed all the literature for parties outside the polls, we were the ones that really encouraged registration, and all the things that we did, would being a great to have a program that said, you know, we used to do things with machines, the young people haven't seen. we used to communicate with people the hard way, calling everybody, and so that people don't think that the years, the
100 years have been followed. that women have been an integral part of the electorate system doing little things that have made voting a privilege that many of us have as a habit. >> you're exactly right. >> we need to create that habit because in the united states we're still 35% is a very good turn out and that's not right zmip. we still have a ways to go. i think you're absolutely right. i can't answer all of your questions but i certainly hope that conversations like this are a good place for to us start and i think you're exactly right. suffrage was just a means to an end. it was one part of it. then 100 years of work that's happened since then and certainly as we've discovered -- not discovered tonight but mentioned tonight there are plenty of other things we as women are interested in, we want to learn about, we want to educate ourselves and we want to
make sure we're telling those stories of the women that we just again aren't at the tip of our tongues most definitely and i certainly hope as we move forward that use of technology, certainly social media, you know, online websites, diana mentioned how do small places find new resource, online content which is certainly not free but it is a lot more inexpensive than trying to do a program or write a book or produce a film or some of those things that are just out of reach. so i think we're probably out of time sponsorship let me say on behalf of the rest of the panelists thank you all very much four comments and for being here tonight. we of course are delighted to be a part of the archiving programming and we hope to see you back for women's history month in march 2015. thank you all very much. [ applause ] .
coming up, american history tv on c-span 3 looks at the dropping of the atomic bomb during world war ii. next grant weller teaching a class on american and japanese strategies leading up to the dropping of the bomb. then a debate on president truman's decision to use the atomic bomb. later president truman's zbroond join survivors of hiroshima and nagasaki to consider the legacy of the atomic bombs. next u.s. air force academy history professor grant weller
teaches a class on america's use of the atomic bombs against japan at the end of world war ii and examines japanese social and political attitudes. this is just under an hour. outside standing. take yo >> outstanding. we'll finish your survey of the "second world war" with ten of the asia-pacific war. before next week launching into a more detailed discussion about the war without mercy. we start off with the surrender ceremony on the 2nd of september, 1945, with the demonstration of air and naval strength that macarthur and others arranged to just drive home to the japanese exactly what had happened here. and also to emphasize to them
that the very correct observance of the surrender terms would be in the japanese best interests. on the side is the missouri itself which was the sight of the signing ceremony. before we get into the lesson per se, which will include the battle of okinawa where we have some marines passing fallen japanese soldiers does anybody have any questions for the material you read today. >> yes, sir. my question is more the political -- how did roosevelt and all the upper leadership in the military justify okinawa when they knew they would drop the bomb in two months. >> when is the first successful test of an atomic bomb? july of 1945. when is okinawa?
april. so, remember, history has lived forward even though it's written backward. in april of 1945 nobody knows for sure if this thing is going to work. and also as we'll discuss in a little more detail further on, it's not really certain what the japanese response to the atomic bomb or atomic bombs is going to be. is this going a war winner by itself? most american leadership doesn't think so. it's a useful tool in that direction but it's not necessarily going to win the war by itself. so the american planners, the american military, political leadership are proceeding under the assumption that japan has to be defeated through conventional means and that includes capturing okinawa as an advanced air and anchorage air base for the bombing of japan and for the support of the invasion fleet that most americans believe is inevitable. does that answer your question
>> yes, sir. >> very good. anybody else. >> you mentioned there were 180,000 civilians perished between the two atomic bombs almost immediately. do you have numbers of, you know, post-war how many people actually perished from those bombs and what was the actual, total casualty count from those experiences? >> i'm shooting off the top of my head. my best guess or my best recollection is that it more or less doubles when you take into account the people who die of their wounds or that suffer long term disability or injury. part of the problem of figuring it out exactly is the risk of cancer. the risk of cancer definitely goes up in hiroshima and nagasaki, for that matter in new mexico in nevada where nuclear
test sites took place in the united states. but it's not a one to one relationship i.e. you go this place, get cancer and die somewhere down the road. it's hard to nail those down exactly but roughly double. yes. >> i have a question. >> ah-ha. >> the fire in tokyo produced massive destruction, 100,000 deaths in tokyo. when truman issued the declaration or the warning on july 26th to the japanese that, you know, massive destruction is forthcoming why don't they take heed of this? >> well, great lead into the rest of the class. but the japanese are kind of in an endurance mode, i.e. we can keep taking this until we have the opportunity for the final decisive battle that will inflict enough casualties on the americans that the americans will give up and if not go home they will at least give up and
negotiate on terms they find agreeable. they suffered enormous casualties from a western point of view they clearly passed the point of no return where they should have long ago surrendered and accepted whatever the americans had to deal out as a better alternative to continuing to suffer the war but the japanese leadership doesn't see it that way yet. >> what's the government's approach to arming civilians for the last home defense of japan? i know you say historical but how serious, how convincing was it done by the government? >> the government was very involved. they deeply believed in this. this program, this idea of civilians fighting to the last,
sacrificing their lives. as a way of inflicting enough damage on the americans that the americans would somehow negotiate. how seriously did the japanese civilian population take it? that's a much more difficult question to answer because, indeed, the war does end before the invasion. so at the time nearly every japanese civilian took it seriously and publicly at least said absolutely we're all in for this, this is a great idea. because to say otherwise would have been disadvantageous if not suicidal. after the war ends many japanese say that was a bad idea i don't think i would have charged an american with a bamboo spear or thrown myself under a tank. at that point the war is over. it's very difficult for us to go
back and try to understand what might have really happened if the united states is invaded. would civilians have fought or not. i think the best answer is some would, some wouldn't but as to whether the some would would have been bigger or smaller than the some wouldn't, it's hard to say. both the japanese high command and the united states did believe, though, that the civilian population would resist and resist violently. >> was that a key factor in deciding to drop the nuclear bomb? >> it's a key factor in all american and ally planning for the invasion and for the defeat of japan. >> i have a question about if anybodying talked about the surrender of the japanese and it was accepted with no terms or unconditional surrender. it mentioned the part about the civilians and how there were gun shots heard all across the country, kind of colorful language.
was that actually really the case like there were mass suicides not mass suicides but several instance of suicides across the country in japan. >> many instance insurance of suicide mostly on far of the japanese military feeling the emperor coming forward saying we throats war and failed as a nation reflected on them personally and that the only way they could assuage their personal honor was to kill themselves. the reason why it ripples out there, one of the things the bombings have done, severely damaged the japanese communication network. plus, as we're talking about the high level japanese discussions, up until the point where the emperor intervenes the official line is japan is fighting this out to the end. so, the emperor's announcement comes as a shock to many people. to had kind of planned out their lives, literally.
this is what i'm going do with the rest of my life. i'm going to fight the americans until i die and to have that taken away at that moment was a deep shock , and so a lot of military people respond through suicide. >> they were accepting unconditional surrender why did they leave hirohito in power. >> the idea of unconditional surrender is not that the japanese -- not that the americans are going to destroy japan or any more than they destroyed germany but japan will not get to negotiate terms. because the united states, the top leadership had already to some degree decided that keeping hirohito around might be a good idea the occupation planners are saying okay how do we control this country, how do we occupy
this country, how do we pacify this country of complete fanatics. many said we need to keep hirohito around because if he tells the japanese to cooperate with the occupation they will. one condition japanese are putting forward the united states is more than willing to accept, and you will recall looking at the language they are using they are talk past each other in some ways. the japanese don't get an absolute guarantee that hirohito will remain on the throne. the united states isn't willing to say that in so many word but willing to hint at it if that's what it takes to get the japanese to agree to surrender and then hirohito's cooperation is an important part of the occupation. anybody else? >> i was reading about the
planned invasion, they also mention that some people thought it would be better to use economic strangulation and fire bombing. was that still under consideration when they were discussing the use of the bomb? >> yes. that's one of the options on table. i'll put a pin in that one because we're going discuss that in some detail. but, yes, it's still on the table. good. anybody else? okay. let's go ahead then and press ahead. we've talked about this all semester what has the japanese strategy been all along for this war? break the will of the americans. how? inflicting casualties. the idea is japan is not -- japan would certainly accept but japan does not realistically expect to win a straight up military victory. instead by resisting american pressure, by causing american casualties, they will get the
united states to the point where the u.s. will agree to negotiate on terms favorable to the japanese. specifically the japanese would love to keep some of the conquered territory to keep the resources that they went to war to get in the first place. that strategy is unchanged. but, again, as we saw before and we're still seeing, the execution of that strategy is changing. so how did the japanese attempt to execute that strategy at iwo jima? okay. they dig in how? >> massive tunnel system. >> yeah. this is a switch from previous island campaigns. the japanese essentially become subterranean on iwo jima. >> also they get away with the
bomb attacks and gave instructions to resist like down the last man fight until they die type doctrine. >> exactly. the idea is to endure, to hold out as long as important, to cause casualties, the specific order is every soldier needs to kill ten americans before he dies. and note that before he dies that's a built in assumption. the defenders of the iwo jima assume they will die. their job is just to cause as many casualties as possible on the way. good. how about okinawa? what's different at okinawa in the execution of this strategy? >> okinawa they have a counter attack in a sense pick-off the americans. >> yeah. absolutely. they allow the landing to proceed pretty much unopposed which is completely different
than the doctrine that the japanese have been following in the rest of the pacific war. they allow the americans to land, to get well ensconced on okinawa but then they have multiple lines of resistance and use the terrain to great advantage because there's an additional element to the strategy. not only are the japanese trying to hold out on okinawa and cause as many casualties as to the allied soldiers and marines -- >> they incorporated -- >> how so >> using te ing thing the kamik. >> they will attack the fleet. the longer they hold out the longer the american fleet has to remain in the waters around okinawa where it's an identifiable target. how effective -- go ahead.
>> why didn't they have a naval component? >> distance. iwo jima is further away. the japanese don't have much of an effective surface force. they are also suffering from the submarine blockade which has reduced their access to fuel oil. in fact, what is the rest of the japanese navy, the remnants of the japanese navy do at okinawa? the japanese have one asset left. anybody remember it? the battleship imato. one of two largest battleships completed. they send it off with only enough fuel to make to it okinawa. it doesn't make it that far. american air cover is far too strong for it but it's their last-gasp. they have to have the american fleet in a place where they) knw
they can fine it. they don't have enough fuel to sail around the ocean. >> also right here that sunk 7 damaged 17, which is obviously pretty significant. i'm not sure we can make up for that. although we did some back and sink the "yamato" and escort ships as well. >> absolutely. the american navy suffers more deaths at okinawa than they did in their whole previous rest of the pacific war. now how does that play into the japanese strategy? got to cause the pain, right? that's the whole idea. wear down the american will by causing casualties. okinawa is almost ideal from the japanese point of view. they cause horrific casualties to the american land forces, the
length of the battle forces, american navy to stay off okinawan waters, especially the kamikazes. but okinawa does fall. and the japanese high command very quickly realizes what's most likely next on the agenda. the invasion of the home islands. so how do they prepare? for this possibility? >> the japanese are going to provide 1.7 million people estimated to defend the islands. along with whatever area enforcements they have left and pretty much bring everything back to the main land, and pretty much have an all-out fight. hopefully to repel the americans, which really is kind of hopeless at this point. >> yeah. militarily, it's a challenge at best. what they're going to do is, try to bring home as many troops as
they can. remember, throughout the majority of the asian pacific war, most japanese soldiers are in china, not on the islands defending against the americans. so they're doing their best, despite the american submarine and air blockade, to bring troops home from china. to defend the home islands. and as we talked about earlier during the q & a, they're going to arm the civilian population. or the official policy becomes known, the glorious death of 100 million. the idea that rather than surrender, the japanese are going to fight to the death, as a nation. and this is an illustration of japanese school girls look to be in the 10 to 12 range, maybe early teens at the latest. training to resist the american invasion, using bamboo spears. and you'll note in the background, you'll see a lot of army leadership.
this was an official program. this is sponsored by the government. this is required by the government. all right. is there a way out for japan at this point? as you've already pointed out, their chances of resisting the invasion to actually stop the invasion aren't good. so what are the possibilities for getting out of this thing? >> talk to the soviets? >> talk to the soviets. see if they can't get soviet mediation. now, the japanese do not understand at this point the agreements that have already been made between the american, british and soviet leaders. at a series of conferences that the soviet union is going to enter the pacific war. the japanese also severely underestimate stalin's interest in regaining territory that the japanese took from russia during the rousso japanese war in 1904, 1905. their thinking is, well, maybe
we can come to some kind of balance of power arrangement. if the soviets will prop us up now, they'll help us negotiate our way out of this war with the americans. then we can maybe help the soviets later on. at least that's what we're going to tell them. so the japanese do launch a maybe diplomatic effort to get the soviets to mediate the war. mediate an end to the war. so why doesn't this work out? [ inaudible ] >> the soviets see they have more to gain in terms of territory and geopolitical position through entering the war than they do from helping the japanese get out of it. >> obviously, we've already had pearl harbor occur. and the death toll through the war thus far was i believe four times that of what it was in europe. from what the book said. so at this point, even if the soviets got involved, i believe that the american people
wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than unofficial surrender from the japanese people. even if you were able to enter those points, these options here, i don't think it was something that could be stopped or mediated peacefully. >> yeah. what kind of terms are the americans willing to accept at this point? >> nothing -- >> unconditional surrender. the americans have been saying this all along. the americans have issued clarifications. essentially saying, when we say unconditional surrender, we don't mean we're going to enslave the japanese people. we're not going to -- there's not going to be mass executions or anything like that. what they're saying when they say unconditional surrender is, the japanese are not going to have a voice. the americans will decide what's to be done. the americans plan to be merciful, but this is not going to be a negotiation between equals. this is going to be a relationship between victor and vanquished.
what kind of terms were the japanese looking for when they tried to get soviet mediation and push for a negotiated surrender or some sort of negotiation? what are the japanese asking for in their communications to moscow? >> was it for -- [ inaudible ] >> yes. the personal survival of the emperor and his continuation in power is definitely one of the things on the japanese list. >> is it keep -- keep french in power? >> yeah. they're looking to keep some of the territory. probably not all of it. they understand that. they're looking to keep at least some of the territory they conquered, because, i mean, that was what the war was all about, right? the ability to control those resources they needed. so looking for some territorial concessions. what else? how about war crimes trials?
there will be war crimes trials, but the japanese will conduct them. so it will be the japanese sitting in judgment of other japanese, without the united states having a role. how about repatriation of japanese troops? the troops trapped on the islands, or still fighting in the philippines, still occupying china. how are they going to get home and what are they going to do when they get there? who is going to take them home? >> japanese. >> the japanese will. why would that be potentially important for the japanese? >> because they could be prepared? >> i'm sorry? >> they could just leave them there. >> they could leave them there. >> still control the empire. >> that's one possibility. let's say they go ahead and bring them home, as promised. they negotiate a deal, they can bring their troops home. how are they going to come home? are they going to come home in defeat, hanging their heads? no. if the japanese bring their own troops home, they can
essentially declare victory. their troops can come home with their arms intact, waving their flags. is this starting to sound like germany in 1918? >> yes. >> absolutely. and why is the united states not going to accept a japanese surrender that involves the japanese repatriating their own troops? >> they don't want a world war 3. >> exactly. >> they want the germans to know it's over. >> that's the only point of unconditional surrender. to make sure the defeated nation knows it. so there will be no stab in the back myth like hitler exploited in germany in his rise to power. with this idea that, well, we really would have won the war if it weren't for -- name your scapegoat. the americans definitely don't want the japanese pulling that number on them. okay? so the soviets going to mediate? nah. soviets aren't going to mediate this one. and even if they did, were the
japanese willing to offer anything the americans would accept? no. all right. so here we are coming also to the end of american strategy. what's american strategy been all along? >> is it the main land? >> yeah, get to the mainland of japan. occupy japan, force an unconditional surrender, so that the japanese know they have been beaten and there won't be another war. we've talked about in the past the progressive brutality of american tactics. the hardening of the war, as time has gone on. in part a response just to the nature of war itself, and in part a response to the calculated atrocities carried out by the japanese. the japanese are trying to wear down american will by -- through these atrocities, and it's actually backfiring. it's making the americans more determined to carry on to final victory. as you brought up during the q &
a, the fire bombings. so if the united states is being so successful in bombing japanese cities and burning out japanese industry, is that going to be a war winner? >> no. >> why not? >> because it doesn't have -- it doesn't have a strategic effect. there are still japanese soldiers on the islands with inflicted casualties. so it's not like in germany, where we can have an offensive and achieve somewhat of an effect. but in japan, i mean, we're just bombing cities and civilians. we're not actually achieving a strategic effect. >> well, what's happened to japanese industry as a result of these fire bombings? >> what's left is substantial. >> yeah, japanese production has plummeted. it's in some ways becoming almost deindustrialized nation. but do you think it's going to make the japanese quit? >> no. >> no. no. even know the japanese are not
producing war material at this point in anything like effective quantities, they still can stash away what they had, what they had already produced, and await the american invasion. we talked about the blockade. mainly carried out by submarine. also by aerial mines and surface ships and attack aircraft. how is that affecting japan? >> was it in -- between -- '41 to '4 2, their shipping was around 2.5 million tons -- 2.5 million tons, i believe. in that time frame. and by 1945, it was cut in half through our operational endeavors in the pacific ocean. that's obviously pretty significant, especially in a country that doesn't have a lot of natural resources. >> yeah. i mean, that's what the war is all about, right? getting access to those resources. rubber, oil, food.
and that's all pretty much cut off at this point. but is it making the japanese quit? no. and this gets us to the question you were asking, cadet ferry. about the continuation of the blockade, the continuation of bombardment being the way to go. some americans -- some american leaders did argue, yes, let's not invade japan. let's just keep up with the bombing raids, let's just keep up with the blockade, and eventually they've got to quit. what's the problem with that from the american point of view? >> don't know how long it's going to take. >> how long is this going to take? years. potentially. even with the invasion planned, when was the first invasion of japan supposed to be, according to the timetable? >> summer of '46? >> that would be the second. first was going to be november
of '45. and not until spring of 1946 would the second invasion take place near tokyo. so even with the invasion, the americans are anticipating this war is going to go on at least until mid 1946. how long is it going to go on without an invasion? it's hard -- there's no telling. by american standards, japan is beaten. there's no point to this. but the japanese don't see it that way. as a result, the fire bombings will continue, even though the 20th air force is rapidly running out of japanese cities to burn. the blockade is going to it continue, but operation downfall, the invasion of japan, is on the books. it's going to happen. at least on paper. at least on the plan. so what's it going to be like? >> brutal. 500,000 casualties, what they're
predicting, out of the 1. -- i think 1.2, 1.3 million soldiers they estimate it will take to actually be successful in this operation. >> yeah, it's going to be the biggest amphibious invasion in history. it's going to dwarf the normandy invasion. it is going to be huge, and the casualties are going to be terrible. now, after the war, historians have gotten into a lot of debates over the exact casualty numbers. it's a little confused, because you have a lot of different agencies trying to estimate the casualties, and they're using different numbers. for instance, you have one group that's trying to estimate casualties in terms of replacements. so this is the number of replacement infantrymen, replacement artillery men. replacement machine gunners we're going to need. so that's one set of casualty figures. another set of casualty figures is being set up by the medical personnel. okay? how many of this kind of hospital -- how many hospitals
are we going to need, how many hospital ships are get to we go to need. those types of things. those numbers are not quite contradictory, but they're different, they're all big. i think probably the most telling statistic out there has to do with procurement of metals. specifically purple hearts. the united states made so many purple heart medals, anticipating casualties in the invasion of japan, that we are still giving out that same stock of purple hearts today. any american who is wounded today in afghanistan receives a purple heart that was forged for a soldier who was going to invade japan. it's going to be big, it's going to be bad. in addition, the united states fully expects that all of the allied pows being held in japanese custody will be massacred.
rather than allow them to be leb rated. and the americans are right. the japanese high command had already issued orders that p.o.w.s were not allowed to be liberated. they were to be killed first. so is there a way out for the americans? well, one option is soviet intervention, right? and this is part of the reason the americans are negotiating so hard at yalta to get soviet intervention. because what happens if the soviets come into the war? >> you have one more person trying to negotiate terms. >> right. it's going to make things complex in terms of the negotiations. what's the price the soviets are going to demand? that's a tough question. but how about the positive? what's the positive to bring the soviets into the war? >> it's a second front. >> where? very good. >> northern shores, mainland china, man churia. >> yeah, man churia and mainland
china. because what did we say the japanese were doing to resist the invasion? shipping their troops home from man churia, right? what happens if the soviets invade man churia? >> they're going to send troops back. >> yeah, even if they may send troops back, but at the very least, thief got to stop sending reinforcements to the home islands, right? so open up another front. prevent the home islands from the mainland. is that going to be enough to do in the japanese, though? >> no. >> people argue -- >> probably not. >> don't people argue, though, that maybe the japanese were more scared of the soviet invasion and maybe that's why they surrendered? >> yeah, that's -- and once again, we're cut -- as i told you, dr. enteen used to tell me, history is not a science. you can't go back and rerun it and change the variables. what we see is here oshima,
soviet invasion and nagasaki right on top of each other. it's a 1, 2, 3 combination punch that causes at least some portion of the japanese leadership to say, okay, it's time. as to what is the decisive blow, it's very difficult to decide which it is. and i tend to think really in terms of it's the sheer combination happening so rapidly on top of each other that really provides the psychological shock that let's the japanese leadership, at least some of the japanese leadership, change their thinking. but you raise a very good point. and there are some americans who say, hey, maybe soviet intervention. it's certainly worth a shot, right? negotiate and surrender. are the japanese offering anything that the united states can consider vaguely acceptable? >> no. >> no. add to that the united states is reading japanese diplomatic traffic. we've broken the japanese
diplomatic ciphers, so they know they're seeking mediation and know the terms. and they know the terms are completely unacceptable. so there is not going to be a negotiated surrender. as a result, truman from potston issues essentially the final ultimat ultimatum. he's met with the british, he's met with the soviets. he's met with his military advise advisers. he knows the atomic bomb works. and so what does he tell the japanese at potston? >> horrible destruction is coming unless you surrender now. >> yeah. this is your last warning. prompt and utter destruction. prompt and utter destruction will be your fate if you don't surrender. and he offers some explication of the terms. we're not going to enslave the japanese people.
japan will be allowed to remain a country. will have access to resources. not control, but it will have access to resources to rebuild its economy. but we're going to try war criminals. we're going to occupy the country. these are nonnegotiable. so this leads us to what we can call the nondecision to drop the atomic bomb. a lot of historians have burned a lot of ink trying to figure out when, where, who exactly decided to drop the atomic bomb on japan, and it's really difficult to find, because in many ways, there was no decision. there was simply an assumption. what do i mean by that? manhattan project, right? code word, covering the development of the atomic bomb. americans in cooperation with the british.
the americans and british don't realize it, but the soviets are also getting cooperation through espionage, so they know what's going on, as well. but they produced the world's first effective atomic weapon tested in july of 1945. the second-most expensive arms program of world war ii. you remember what the first one was? talked about last time. >> b-29? >> the b-29, right. so the united states has spent -- the two most expensive weapon system in the war are here going to be united. having spent that much money, do you think there's a certain amount of institutional and bureaucratic inertia to put this new combined weapons system into effect? of course. of course. why build the thing if you're not going to use it?
is it going to win the war by itself? >> no one knows. >> no one knows. by american standards, the japanese have already taken this thing far too far. they have held out far too long. this is pointless, and it's fueling american rage. they see americans as dying for almost no purpose in a war that japan has already lost. is an atomic bomb going to be enough to wake up the japanese and get them to quit? some americans hope so. a lot of american leaders are doubtf doubtful. some of the scientists who create the bomb argue that maybe a demonstration is more appropriate. pick some uninhabited island, take a japanese -- a delegation of japanese leaders, have them sit in a boat off shore for a ways and we'll demonstrate the atomic bomb to them. show them the destruction that it can cause. why doesn't the american leadership accept this proposal?
>> because the japanese would never get on a boat and watch. >> first off, it's going to be a process, right? it's going to be a difficult process. you've got -- first off, you've got to start negotiating with the japanese to show them the demonstration. and there aren't any negotiations going on. so it's going to be a problem. >> they already announced the glorious death of 100 million. so i think at this point they're not too concerned about the -- you know, the civilian population. they're more concerned about living up to the emperor and dying a glorious death for the mainland, japan. >> yeah, absolutely. there's really been no indication from the japanese leadership that possible massive civilian deaths are going to cause japan to quit the war. they have already suffered massive civilian deaths, right? upwards of 80, perhaps 100,000 dead in tokyo in one night. japanese didn't quit. so -- yes. >> you also have -- it's not a chief factor, but true american
leadership see the writing on the wall between the soviet union and the united states. the ideological difference is obviously going to play a huge role. if the atomic bomb can -- has the potential to bring the japanese to surrender, then why not do it before the soviets invade? >> yeah. that's a factor. that's floating around in there. i always think of this as kind of staff meeting stuff. if you've ever been in a staff meeting, once everybody knows what the decision is going to be, now everybody sits back and thinks, okay, how can my particular agency benefit from this? and that's why i'm calling this a nondecision. everybody knows -- everybody who is in the know about the atomic bomb knows it's going to be used. so state department, those in the state department who know it's going to be used are saying, okay, how is this going to affect our post war relations? they're starting to see how it affects their particular -- their particular bailiwick, diplomatic relations.
and there are a lot of americans excited about having the atomic bomb in their pocket to use in tough negotiations with the soviets. so that's definitely a factor. but i am not convinced by the arguments of historians who say that it's the predominant factor. to my interpretation, the predominant factor is ending this war. any intimidation of the soviets that comes out of it, that's just gravy. certainly not to be turned down. but not the primary reason. so where are we going to target this thing? where are our american planners looking at? [ inaudible ] >> looking at military targets. in fact, hiroshima is actually the headquarters of the army that is slated to defend the southern island kutsche u. that's also a major port facility, a lot of military targets in it. >> also, the cities they chose
were relatively untouched by the fire bombing, as well. >> absolutely. there weren't too many left in japan at this point. but the idea is, in some ways, it's a matter of informing the americans, how do you bomb damage assessment on to a target that's already half destroyed when you hit it? in this case, the americans want to know just how effective this new weapon is. and it also will hopefully enhance the shock value to the japanese. one city that was pretty much intact, one bomb, one destroyed city. most americans aren't confident this is a war winner by itself, but there is some hope, just maybe this will work. and if it doesn't, well, there's always the tactical use of atomic weapons. those who were in the know about the atomic bomb began writing atomic bombs into the operation downfall plan. to use atomic bombs to destroy
major military hard points and to help the american troops get ashore, and help the american troops get inland in japan. not a lot of deep understanding at this point about the long-term impacts of radiation. the best advice they had was, you know what, don't send any troops through any place where you drop an atomic bomb for about 48 hours. >> i saw a documentary after the war, they actually had characters and what not they were going to fire warhead shells out of -- miles across the battlefield at the enemy. but obviously no one thinks about -- at that time, no one thought about the implications that come from, you know, radiation and what not. >> yeah, when we get into the 1950s, the american military is going to experiment when a whole variety of atomic weapons, atomic artillery shells, the atomic bazooka, the davy
crockett, an atom bomb that can be launched from a jeep by two or three people. for a while, atomic weapons seemed like the wave of the future before the full realization sinks in. and part of what's going to cause the realization of the long term effects to sink in are indeed having used two of them at hiroshima and nagasaki, americans and people around the world can see the long-term effects. but in 1945, those are not well-understood at all. not in the least. so this leads us to what we call the triple punch. hiroshima, the soviet invasion of man churia and nagasaki. within three-and-a-half days, japan has to absorb these major blows. finally, there is enough of an impact on the japanese senior
leadership to make a difference. it's not that there had been no one in japan who was contemplating getting out of the war by surrendering up until this point. certainly nobody did it publicly. but within high government circles, there are peace advocates, folks saying the war is lost, we need out of this. but they were outnumbered and outvoiced, outshouted in some cases, by the militaryists who wanted to hold on. the idea of being one more battle. one more battle. if we can just inflict american casualties in one more big battle, then we can negotiate and really get something out of this war. but after hiroshima, after the invasion of man churia and after nagasaki, the japanese high command finally allows the emperor essentially to step in and override, make the final decision to surrender. there's a little bit of la last-minute negotiating over the survival of the emperor
personally, and his position within society. again, the americans and the japanese kind of talk past each other. they come up with language that's vague enough that both sides can interpret it to mean what they need it to mean. the japanese say the position of the emperor will not be prejudiced and the americans say, well, you know what, the japanese are going to get to choose their own form of government after the occupation, as long as it's respectful of all people and that sort of thing. and if they -- if they want to choose an emperor, that's okay. but in the meantime, the emperor will be subject to the supreme allied commander. and that's good enough for both sides to interpret it the way they need to, to reach the point of surrender. >> so i have a question. >> yes. >> between the first dropping of the bomb and the second one. how much opposition existed within the british government and the united states government after seeing the destruction of the first bomb and hiroshima and
how much opposition was there to dropping a second one? >> very little. none serious. part of it's the information lag. we're used to living in the information age, satellite reception, that sort of thing. information from hiroshima, which, remember, is a foreign country at war, is very slow to come out to the allies. part of the problem is the japanese don't realize what happened. the japanese understood atomic physics. they had their own atomic program. but it had not advanced very far, and the one thing the japanese had figured out about ato himmics, it's really difficult. and to fact of the point, they said we don't even really think some of their top scientists said we don't think a bomb is practical. so when one goes off over here sheema, first off, you've got to round up your experts, right? you've got to get them there. they've got to figure out what happened. they've got to come back. they've got to issue a report, convince some skeptical people this is really what happened. and none of that information is
getting back to the united states. so the united states, hearing no response to its ultimatum, continues with the plan. and it's another nondecision. it's simply following through with the plan as stated, we're just going to keep dropping atomic bombs as part of our preinvasion strategy. the invasion will take place as planned. up until the point where the japanese accept unconditional surrender. yes. >> do we underestimate how brutal the atomic bombs were going to be? >> yes, it was not well understoodel can what they were going to do. in fact, i think our standard way of expressing the explosive power of nuclear weapons is indyk active of that. how do we describe atomic or nuclear weapons? how do we measure their blast?
>> as related to, like, tnt? >> yeah. we call it -- kilo tons or megatons. and that is equivalent -- a kilo ton is equivalent to a thousand tnt, a conventional explosive. so to try and get our minds around this new force in the universe, or this new force that humans have figured out not how to control, but at least how to tap, that's a big intellectual leap. and it's going to take time. >> i thought the 20 kilo tons was one of them, right? was that a little -- was that the 20 tons -- kilo tons? sorry? >> i don't want to go on record on that. >> somewhere in the book it said that the -- that between the two bombs, it was equal to the -- all the conventional bombs dropped in europe, and obviously, that's pretty significant, you know, considering how much we actually
did drop. even more significant is, you know, think about current day. we have 50, 60, 70, megaton, you know, warheads on our nuclear bombs. that's, you know, 1,500 times what nagasaki was. it's pretty significant when you think about it in that sense. what could come from one of those bombs. >> absolutely. we're literally talking in mathematical terms about orders of magnitude. more destructive. but the chief terror of nuclear weapons is not just their blast, but also their long-term effects in terms of radiation. those things were so ill understood in 1945 that most people just thought of them as really, really big bombs and expressed them as such. kilo tons. thousands of tons. it's the same as 70 b-29 loads. trying to come up with some way to express this, to understand that people are falling back on their understanding of conventional explosives.
good. very good. so we're good so far. all right. then let's go ahead and wrap it up. what do we come to? the japanese strategy of spiritual exhaustion, of inflicting such horrific casualties and such horrors on the americans that the americans will come to some sort of negotiated settlement that will be acceptable to japan. that failed. and, in fact, the horrors that the japanese deliberately perpetrated actually reinforced the american desire to fight on to unconditional victory or unconditional surrender and absolute victory. the american strategy of seeking absolute military victory ultimately was successful. the americans got what they wanted or needed out of this war. they did achieve unconditional surrender. and i put a little asterisk on here, because there was that talking past each other negoti