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August 07, 2021

A time when men could keep their heads


If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too . . .

If -- Rudyard Kipling

Yesterday morning, at the top of the Morning Report, J.J. Sefton said,

Good morning, kids. The weekend is here and Happy Hiroshima Day! Were it not for that bomb, I might not be here today.

We haven't been treated to nearly the usual guiltfest concerning the Hiroshima bomb this year as is typical. Maybe the Olympics in Tokyo have something to do with that.

In any case, I thought it would be interesting to compare how people reacted to the astounding news of the Hiroshima bomb when it actually happened to how our news is framed today. Plus some analysis of what was happening during WWII with the benefit of hindsight.

A cousin of mine introduced me to a Facebook group called Yesterday's News: The Ogden Utah Edition. They put up digital copies of historic newspaper pages. Below the fold, a couple of pages from the January 6, 1945 Edition of the Ogden Standard Examiner, and one from August 7:

Aug 6 headlinebomb.jpg

There were several stories on the first page regarding various aspects of the atomic bomb - the actual bombing, manufacture of the bomb, etc., but not a lot of instant takes from Washington insiders. There were also stories about beating back "The Japs" at Luzon, and upcoming decisions on how many personnel would be needed in the Army going forward - figures being discussed were in the three to 7 million range.

There were also several stories on the front page having nothing to do with the atomic bomb. Including a satirical one about the "sissification" of the press room at the Treasury Department, now "turned out like Shirley Temple's Boudoir. . . "

After the front page, there were local stories, lots of advertisements for life insurance, plus news from Europe, a big advertisement encouraging women to join the WAVES, and Drew Pearson's Washington Merry-Go-Round, which did not mention the bomb, but touched on a lot of issues in a short piece. Probably written before the bomb dropped. And there was a story on Congressional desires to provide federal welfare.

n0v 6 hiro 2.jpg

By August 7, there were more in-depth stories on the bomb. The Ogden Standard Examiner had a Washington Correspondent then.

Opinions concerning the morality of atomic warfare were more prevalent than on August 6.

aug 7 bomb.jpg

Can you imagine what the pressures on Truman were like, having the capacity to use an atomic bomb for the first time?

I don't know much about Henry I. Miller, but he sounds like a guy who is used to looking at data objectively. He calls our used of nuclear weapons a moral and strategic imperative.

The historical context and military realities of 1945 are often forgotten when judging whether it was "necessary" for the United States to use nuclear weapons.
I have two peripheral connections to those events. The first is that when Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, my father, a sergeant in the U.S. Army infantry who had fought in the Italian campaigns of WWII, was on a troopship, expecting to be deployed to the Pacific theater of operations. Neither he nor his fellow soldiers relished the prospect of participating in the impending invasion of the Japanese main islands. When the Japanese surrendered (on August 14th), the ship headed, instead, for Virginia, where the division was disbanded. (I was born two years later.)

My second connection was that during the 1960s, three of my M.I.T. physics professors had participated several decades earlier in the Manhattan Project, the military research program which developed the atomic bombs during the war. In class, one of these professors recalled that, after the first test explosion (code-named Trinity), he was assigned to drive Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves, the director of the project, to view the result. They arrived to find a crater 1,000 feet in diameter, and six feet deep, with the desert sand inside turned into glass by the intense heat. Gen. Groves's response? "Is that all?"

Approximately 66,000 are thought to have died in Hiroshima from the acute effects of the Little Boy bomb, and about 39,000 in Nagasaki from the Fat Man device. In addition, there was a significant subsequent death toll due to the effects of radiation and wounds.

Shortly thereafter, the questions began: "was it really necessary?" The Monday-morning quarterbacks started to question the morality and military necessity of using nuclear weapons on Japanese cities. Even nuclear physicist Leo Szilard, who, in 1939, had written the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the formation of the Manhattan Project, characterized the use of the bombs as "one of the greatest blunders of history." Since then, there have been similar periodic eruptions of revisionism, uninformed speculation, and political correctness. . .

Leaving aside whether our enemy "deserved" to be attacked with the most fearsome weapons ever employed, sceptics are also quick to overlook the "humanitarian" and strategic aspects of the decision to use them.

"Operation Downfall" became unnecessary.

View from an expat:

Among the many things we are not conversant with regarding World War II is the sheer number of Chinese civilians wiped out subsequent to the Doolittle raid on Tokyo. Try to imagine the number of Chinese "rebels" punished (killed) for providing solace to 80-some American stranded airmen whose war exploit they knew nothing about, and said exploit having in any case resulted in less than 90 Japanese deaths (although plenty of humiliation for the Land of the Rising Sun).

Do you think it might be about 25 Chinese civilians? 250? Perhaps 2,500? Certainly not 25,000? The answer is perhaps ten times that: close to a quarter of a million! Yes, you read that right: the Japanese army killed an estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians as punishment for aiding the escape of Doolittle's Raiders from Chinese territory.

This post includes links to a remarkable number of good reasons for dropping nuclear warheads on Japan in WWII.


This song kind of reminds me of "news" today.

Everybody's Talkin' At Me - Bill Withers


Olympics of the Future Foreseen

Meanwhile, a young woman who is already prepared for the equestrian competitions. She doesn't think she is a chicken. View at your own risk.

Speaking of identity politics, Michael Barone on the Manhattan Project:

Today's human resources department professionals would be triggered if they looked at the list of physicists hired to produce what President Franklin Roosevelt was told could be a uranium-based bomb "with a destructiveness vastly greater than anything now known." They would be astounded that the president, in his haste to develop such a weapon, as he put it, "before Hitler got it," authorized the hiring of scientists without any attempt to match the diversity of the American population.

They would have noted that Leo Szilard, who drafted the letter signed by Albert Einstein that alerted Roosevelt to uranium's potential, was born a Hungarian Jew and was educated in the Realiskola, one of Budapest's elite high schools.

And that among the lead physicists at the Manhattan Project were three other Hungarian Jews from Budapest educated at a single school, the Fasori Evangelikus Gimnazium, in the years during and just after World War I -- Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann and Edward Teller.

Compare to African runners in the Olympics. Uh-oh.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

Hope you have a great weekend.

digg this
posted by K.T. at 11:07 AM

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