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Monday, December 10, 2012

Sickels: George McClellan, Dayton Moore, and the Kansas City Royals


Dayton Moore is trying to avoid being McClellan. He’s got the farm system built up, the army trained and organized. He’s good at that. Now he’s taking the field of battle and deploying those forces. That’s admirable.

Of course, what’s the next part of the story? Is Moore going to turn into an aggressive, brilliant field commander like Ulysses S. Grant or William Tecumseh Sherman? Will he be cautious but effective like George Gordon Meade? Mercurial and erratic like Joe Hooker? Or will he be the well-meaning but dangerously inept Ambrose Burnside? The suicidally aggressive John Bell Hood?

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: December 10, 2012 at 08:25 PM | 621 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: civil war, history, rays, royals

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   301. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4330262)
Even the mass bombings achieved very little, until the shock of the second A-bomb.


The A-bomb was dropped from plane that left Tinian, one of the islands you just said was unnecessary.
   302. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4330267)
Any good books about the Mexican - American War? I just saw "A Wicked War" by Greenberg in B & N but am not sure if that is a good one to start with based on some of the reviews I saw.
   303. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4330268)
Why would the Japanese surrender? That wasn't something the Japanese did often.

FTFY.
   304. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4330269)
#289 Thing is that a few of the more expensive operations -- Peleliu and Tarawa were discretionary.

Tarawa was a learning experience though. You probably would have had the same problems if Tarawa had been skipped at the next (IE first major opposed landing) landing.

Peleliu was partially an intelligence failure -- they weren't expecting it to be so strongly held -- with a side order of overconfidence.

Saipan itself didn't need to be taken. Tinian and Guam were much less strongly held. But again there was a partial intelligence failure. There were at least 50% more defenders at Saipan than were expected.

Iwo Jima is only required in support of a strategic bombing campaign based in the Marianas. Still, the moment the decision is made to take the Marianas is made you pretty much have to take Iwo Jima.

Okinawa is needed if you see an invasion of mainland Japan as an eventual necessity. And since they didn't know for sure how the A-bomb would work or even that the Soviets would join in eventually I don't see any way around it.

   305. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4330273)
Also I am not a big fan of "Dugout" Doug MacArthur since reading Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter".
   306. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4330276)
Journalists reported only what the military allowed in WW2.

People have this weird belief that power is absolute and flawless. It is not. Power is achieved and maintained through compromise and deals.
   307. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4330280)
This doesn't describe MacArthur's Pacific campaign at all. His whole plan was to end-run around heavly defended islands, and cut off and isolate the garrisons. He rarely launched an attack against prepared enemy positions.

Huh? Sounds like you just described what I already said.

Nimitz didn't attack every single Japanese held island. He attacked the islands he deemed to be strategically important just like MacArthur did.
   308. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4330282)
But, it should not be over-stated how much the Central Pacific campaign was a result of inter-service politics. The Navy simply would not stand for being subordinate to MacArthur in the Pacific theatre, which led to the very odd split command.


Yeah, the navy and marines hated MacArthur, until they actually had direct relations with him. They begrudged that they had to give him his own navy. However, both Kinkaid and Halsey got along well with MacArthur, although he could lambaste the navy to their face.
   309. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4330285)
It is very easy for us to look back in hindsight and say Nimitz or the US should have done this or that but we have to remember that as it happens there is a severe fog of war going on and that not only do we not know what the enemy is thinking or doing but we have to guess at how the enemy will react. As I mentioned in the last Patton conversation no plan survives contact with the enemy. Japan was not some nation that could not adjust nor would not adjust. If you change the American strategy in the Pacific then you can't keep the Japanese strategy as the same. It simply isn't realistic.
   310. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4330286)
#291 I've argued something similar WRT to the European strategic bombing but have eventually settled for something a tad more measured.

The strategic bombing campaign achieved essentially nothing before late 1944. From a military POV, best I can tell the allies would have been slightly ahead of the game if they'd stayed on the ground.

But like it or not it was probably needed for morale purposes. A pretty shitty reason for basically throwing away large number of lives but life's like that.

After you get the P-51 though: The bombers drew the Luftwaffe up where it was torn to pieces. This is an essential pre-condition of the invasion.

Also, the targeting of the German fuel system worked extremely well. And the semi-tactical, semi-strategic use of the heavy bombers (in particular against the rain lines) as part of the D-Day prep was very important. (Of course this goes back to army control of the AF. These are targets that the army saw as vital. Harris to name one thought it was a waste of time)
   311. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4330292)
On 21 April 1914, President Woodrow Wilson ordered the occupation of Veracruz. MacArthur joined the headquarters staff that was sent to the area, arriving on 1 May 1914. He realized that the logistic support of an advance from Veracruz would require the use of the railroad. Finding plenty of railroad cars in Veracruz but no locomotives, MacArthur set out to verify a report that there were a number of locomotives in Alvarado, Veracruz. For $150 in gold, he acquired a handcar and the services of three Mexicans, whom he disarmed. MacArthur and his party located five engines in Alvarado, two of which were only switchers, but the other three locomotives were exactly what was required. On the way back to Veracruz, his party was set upon by five armed men. The party made a run for it and outdistanced all but two of the armed men, whom MacArthur shot. Soon after, they were attacked by a group of about fifteen horsemen. MacArthur took three bullet holes in his clothes but was unharmed. One of his companions was lightly wounded before the horsemen finally decided to retire after MacArthur shot four of them. Further on, the party was attacked a third time by three mounted men. MacArthur received another bullet hole in his shirt, but his men, using their handcart, managed to outrun all but one of their attackers. MacArthur shot both that man and his horse, and the party had to remove the horse's carcass from the track before proceeding.[26]

A fellow officer wrote to Wood recommending that MacArthur's name be put forward for the Medal of Honor. Wood did so, and Chief of Staff Hugh L. Scott convened a board to consider the award.[27] The board questioned "the advisability of this enterprise having been undertaken without the knowledge of the commanding general on the ground".[28] This was Brigadier General Frederick Funston, a Medal of Honor recipient himself, who considered awarding the medal to MacArthur "entirely appropriate and justifiable."[29] However the board feared that "to bestow the award recommended might encourage any other staff officer, under similar conditions, to ignore the local commander, possibly interfering with the latter's plans"; consequently, MacArthur received no award at all.[30]


From wiki on MacArthur. Does that sound like a "dugout" mentality? That "Dugout Doug" stuff has been repudiated time and time, yet it still lives. It's almost like a meme.
   312. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4330293)
King hated the English. I don't think anyone really knows why.


I recall reading somebody who said it was nothing personal. King hated everybody who wasn't USN. And wasn't fond of a lot of people in the navy.
   313. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4330294)
From wiki on MacArthur. Does that sound like a "dugout" mentality? That "Dugout Doug" stuff has been repudiated time and time, yet it still lives. It's almost like a meme.

Yes, it's a scurrilous lie.

As theatre commander in the SW Pacific, MacArthur frequently exposed himself to enemy fire visiting front line positions.
   314. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4330298)
It is very easy for us to look back in hindsight and say Nimitz or the US should have done this or that but we have to remember that as it happens there is a severe fog of war going on and that not only do we not know what the enemy is thinking or doing but we have to guess at how the enemy will react. As I mentioned in the last Patton conversation no plan survives contact with the enemy. Japan was not some nation that could not adjust nor would not adjust. If you change the American strategy in the Pacific then you can't keep the Japanese strategy as the same. It simply isn't realistic.


I would even go further. Bill James, and of course he isn't alone, once said that you don't need the perfect strategy to win. You just need a coherent effective strategy. Even if it isn't he best, it helps organize your efforts and talents toward achieving a goal. Same with war. Either strategy would have worked (first, because of the US's enormous superiority in manpower and industrial production). But, I, too, think it would have been better if MacArthur had had total command of Pacific operations from almost the beginning. This assumes that the inter-service resentment could have been effectively overcome.
   315. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4330302)
On the Western Front in WWI the only sane strategy was to stay on the defensive until you had tanks, or Storm Trooper tactics developed.


The Canadians did develop some fairly successful offensive tactics. It was as simple as a lot of detailed planning and lots and lots of guns used in a carefully planned manner.

Easy enough to explain. Fairly tough to do in practice. I know at one point Byng didn't get all of the guns he'd been promised and went straight to Haig. And got his guns.
   316. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4330309)
On the Western Front in WWI the only sane strategy was to stay on the defensive until you had tanks, or Storm Trooper tactics developed.

Politically and psychologically it would have been impossible but I've generally been of the opinion that once the Western Front became static the best strategy for the Germans would have been to retreat and then counterattack. Napoleonic strategies on a grand scale.
   317. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4330319)
Why would the Japanese surrender?


Read Gar Alperovitz and Kai Bird.
   318. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4330320)
This doesn't describe MacArthur's Pacific campaign at all. His whole plan was to end-run around heavly defended islands, and cut off and isolate the garrisons. He rarely launched an attack against prepared enemy positions.


Others wanted to bypass the Phillipines as unnecessary but it was MacArthur who insisted on going back there.

There was a funny anecdote in one of the books I read, perhaps Bradley's memoir. It went something like this. MacArthur was a genuine mama's boy. His mother was the one who filled him with his egotism and patrician attitudes. She was also the only person he was apparently afraid of. When he was stationed in the Phillipines, he had a Phillipino mistress named "Dimples", who was 30 years his junior and who he was keeping secret from his mother, who was always lurking in the background somehow. MacArthur even considered enduring a scandal by bringing her to Washington with him. It was then Admiral Leahy who suggested a solution for him. He said something like "Doug should just admit the whole thing and say "C*nt sure do make you look foolish sometimes."".
   319. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4330323)
As theatre commander in the SW Pacific, MacArthur frequently exposed himself to enemy fire visiting front line positions.


I believe the meme had its inception with Corregidor. He had to stay hunkered down in a bunker, and he agonized over how to get out of that predicament, which he bore some fault for getting into it. Then of course he was evacuated. Many people, though, don't realize he had to be order to leave three times. He at thought it would be dishonorable. He had a derringer, an heirloom that had belonged to his father, and he had a gunsmith there cast a cartridge for it. When someone asked him about that, he merely said that he wasn't going to give the Japanese the satisfaction of capturing him alive. Eisenhower, as Marshall's right-hand man, ordered MacArthur to evacuate to Australia and MacArthur simply ignored the message. Marshall, then, directly ordered him. He said he'd think about it. I believe FDR had to essentially appeal to him, telling him a grand army awaiting him to lead them. When he got to Australia and found out he was the commander of a grand nothing, he was pissed. He never forgave FDR for that lie, and when he got he news of FDR's death, his only comment was, now there's a man who wouldn't tell the truth if he could tell a lie. (I believe this is how it went--it's been a while since my reading up on this stuff.)

   320. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4330324)
As theatre commander in the SW Pacific, MacArthur frequently exposed himself


"General, is that your corncob pipe, or are you just glad to see us?"
   321. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4330326)
"Why can't it be both, gentlemen?"
   322. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4330327)
Excellent!
   323. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4330333)
the vilification of Sherman is just absurd even on Lost Cause terms.


Goody. Now I'm a Lost Causer. Not loving the butchery is de facto proof of a slavery enthusiast.

It's funny how words uttered or written by political actors are meaningless. You should let the lawyers at the World Court know that intent has nothing to do with genocide. Forget the South, there are places in South Dakota I'd love to drop you off in wearing a placard printed with some of the propaganda you've written here.
   324. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4330340)
Certainly, in some ways, he was a mama's boy. His mother, like many mothers back then, had invested a lot of herself in seeing that he got ahead. She was always politicking for him--promotions and positions and the like. However, remember, that his father had been a Medal of Honor recipient (for disobeying orders probably in a charge up Missionary Ridge) and had attained the rank of four-star general before he died suddenly. In fact, many thought he would be Chief of staff, but he got on the wrong side of the American governor (or whatever his title) of the Philippines, one William Howard Taft who later became President.

But, Douglas's mother didn't run all his life, certainly not his professional decisions. When he refused to take a final at West Point, he was threatened with expulsion. His mother tried to get him to change his mind, but he remained adamant--the rules were that if your grades were good enough, and his were, you didn't have to take the final. However, MacArthur had been sick and had missed a good bit of class and the instructor felt he should take the final. MacArthur went against her wishes and everyone else's and of course prevailed.



   325. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4330342)
The major development in March came on the 11th, when MacArthur, his wife, and four-year-old son, plus members of his staff, left Corregidor in four battered PT (patrol torpedo) boats led by Lieutenant John Bulkeley. His daring escape took him ultimately to Australia, where he became supreme commander of the newly formed Southwest Pacific Area. MacArthur had not wanted to abandon the Philippines, but directly ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to leave, he was stuck in the unenviable position of having either to abandon his men or to disobey his commander-in-chief. His decision to abide the order, coupled with his behavior leading up to his departure, did not help his case with his GIs. “Though the Filipino soldiers clung to their devotion to MacArthur, the Americans more and more began deriding him,” said a lieutenant from the 26th Cavalry. “As ammunition and food ran out, and as the weeks passed with none of the promised relief, they made up derisive songs and jokes about the general….” Some men sang a parody to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”:


Dugout Doug MacArthur lies a-shakin’ on the Rock
Safe from all the bombers and from any sudden shock.
Dugout Doug is eating of the best food on Bataan
And his troops go starving on


Whether or not its deserved, its not hard to find something regarding that name doing a Google search.
   326. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4330346)
As theatre commander in the SW Pacific, MacArthur frequently exposed himself


Thank God there was no TMZ in those days.
   327. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4330348)
#301 No particular reason that they couldn't have been based out of the Phillipines.

EDIT: Also note that Tinian was the lightest held of the 3 main islands. There's something to be said for just grabbing Tinian and interdicting Saipan and Guam.
   328. GregQ Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4330350)
I am pretty sure that the slapping incident was initially reported to Eisenhower by a nurse and Ike tried to keep it quite.
   329. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4330353)
As theatre commander in the SW Pacific, MacArthur frequently exposed himself to enemy fire visiting front line positions.


And he flew on that reconnaisance flight in Korea.
   330. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4330354)
I am pretty sure that the slapping incident was initially reported to Eisenhower by a nurse and Ike tried to keep it quite.


It isn't widely known, but Eisenhower and Patton had been quite close before the war. They for a few summers at least shared a summer home even. So, it wasn't as if Eisenhower was out to get Patton. He wanted Patton to succeed. He admired his abilities.
   331. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4330359)
Also note that Tinian was the lightest held of the 3 main islands. There's something to be said for just grabbing Tinian and interdicting Saipan and Guam.


That would have been an untenable situation. You can bomb Tinian with land artillery from Saipan. You couldn't have such a large japanese force in such close proximity to a strategic base.
   332. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4330377)
You should let the lawyers at the World Court know that intent has nothing to do with genocide.


But Sherman didn't engage in genocide. That has been documented by several posters drawing from the historical record. The only consistent instances of true genocide in the war was what happened to negro soldiers if they were unfortunate enough to be captured by Confederates. This was southern military policy. They were mostly either killed outright or sold back into slavery.

The "Lost Cause" ethos also has unfortunately elevated nihilistic sociopaths like Jesse James to cult hero status when all he really was was a cold-blooded murderer. The war just gave legitimacy to his menace. He didn't stop once the war was over, nor probably could he, given his character.
   333. GregQ Posted: December 21, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4330378)
As to the Japanese surrender. I think I read- maybe in John Toland's Rising Sun, that Japan tried to send feelers about a surrender via the Russians and that the Russians did not pass it on. Then the Russians entered the war in the east and took N. Korea and other areas. Has anybody else read about this?
   334. Ron J2 Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4330387)
#331 Color me skeptical that it wouldn't have worked, but we'll never know. In any case as I said the Marianas weren't essential. I think there's reason to believe they simply underestimated the task.
   335. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4330389)
The attempt by the Japanese to seek aid from Russia in negotiating a surrender with the US was as ridiculous as it was futile. What did Russia have to gain by helping Japan? They had lost territory to Japan in a previous war, which they stood to gain back as soon as Japan fell, whether Japan like it or not. Stalin stuck his neck out for nobody, certainly not for someone on the cusp of a disasterous loss.
   336. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4330392)
In any case as I said the Marianas weren't essential. I think there's reason to believe they simply underestimated the task.


If not the Marianas, then where? Iwo? Okinawa? Formosa? They had to get closer to the home islands and no matter where they chose to attack, there was going to be a formidable Japanese force there ready to fight to the last man.
   337. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4330398)
With the Pearl Harbor attack and US entry into the war, the powers agreed that nothing would be acceptable except for unconditional surrender. And no ally would make a separate agreement. When German officers in the field insisted on surrendering only to Eisenhower, Eisenhower's told them they could surrender to the commanders in the field or the Allies would just keep killing them. Same thing applied to Japanese attempts to impose conditions on their surrender.
   338. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4330400)
It isn't widely known, but Eisenhower and Patton had been quite close before the war. They for a few summers at least shared a summer home even. So, it wasn't as if Eisenhower was out to get Patton. He wanted Patton to succeed. He admired his abilities.


Eisenhower wanted Patton in charge of the main Operation Torch task force, instead it ended up being Fredendall- who was apparently friends with Marshall.
Fredendall ended up being a complete catastrophe and was eventually replaced by Patton
   339. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4330402)
As to the Japanese surrender. I think I read- maybe in John Toland's Rising Sun, that Japan tried to send feelers about a surrender via the Russians and that the Russians did not pass it on.


There was a "peace party" in Tokyo, but they were of no consequence, more to the point had it been known at the time that they were trying to even discuss surrender with Russia, or us, or anyone, their collective life expediencies would have gone to about zero.

   340. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4330410)
The big stumbling block to surrender was the issue of the emperor and what to do with him. America wanted him gone and felt that a peace with him still on top made the fight to victory kind of pointless. Eventually the top brass changed their mind on this particular issue. Whether the emperor was real or simply an excuse to delay the war so they could show Russia the atomic bomb I do not know.
   341. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4330414)
#339- Agreed. The militarists even tried to scuttle the emperor's capitulation speech after Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an ill-conceived coup de tat.

I'm fairly liberal but even I think that dropping the bomb was necessary to quickly conclude the war.
   342. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4330421)
#339- Agreed. The militarists even tried to scuttle the emperor's capitulation speech after Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an ill-conceived coup de tat.

That's exaggerating it a bit. A very very small subgroup of non high ranking officers were involved. What happened is somewhat similar to the Booth family and their plot to topple the government. The real leaders of Japan and its military accepted the surrender and I would say almost all of them knew that Japan had lost well before the surrender was announced.
   343. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4330424)
I'm fairly liberal but even I think that dropping the bomb was necessary to quickly conclude the war.


I'm of the opinion that dropping the bomb and forcing a quick surrender absolutely saved Japanese lives.

1: We go ahead with Operation Downfall- many many many more Japanese would have died than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
2: We don't go ahead with Downfall, we blockade and [continue] tactical bombing/starving them into submission- eventually many more Japanese would have died than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japanese military "strategy" at this point had devolved to causing us as much expense as possible- completely without regard to how costly such a tactic was to the Japanese themselves.
   344. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4330428)
and I would say almost all of them knew that Japan had lost well before the surrender was announced.


Of course they did, and their Commander on Iwo Jima knew beyond a shadow of the doubt that the battle was lost, and there would be no possibility of evacuation, and yet he and his garrison quite literally fought to the last man, that's what they did.

the single most expensive weapon in their arsenal was sent on a one way suicide mission at Okinawa.

If some Japanese general had done what Paulus finally did at Stalingrad- i.e., looked around, more than half command dead, rest starving and out of ammo, and surrendered- it's possible the west may have looked at the possibility of a Japanese surrender differently.... But none ever did. (well actually some did- in China after the 1st bomb when the Reds attacked...)
   345. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4330435)
Of course they did, and their Commander on Iwo Jima knew beyond a shadow of the doubt that the battle was lost, and there would be no possibility of evacuation, and yet he and his garrison quite literally fought to the last man, that's what they did.

And well before the bombs had been dropped Japanese leadership was already trying to figure out a way to end the war and keep the Emperor around. The whole defend to the last Japanese citizens was a January/February 1945 form of thinking. By June the top brass had abandoned that philosophy and were trying to get the war to end with the Emperor still on top. Japan was done and an invasion was probably not even really required once Russia enters the war and invades Manchuria which they did in the beginning of August. Even if they still stubbornly refuse to surrender Russia then invades in the north while the US invades from the south and a starving Japan depleted of all its resources gets massacred quickly. Or it doesn't even get that far as the civil population rebels and overthrows their government. Which was a fear of the top brass in Japan and one of the reasons they had abandoned their to the last man strategy.
   346. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4330436)
The point was that the Japanese would not get to decide if they got to keep their emperor: we would decide. As it turned out, getting rid of the emperor was never something that MacArthur considered seriously. He displayed extraordinary delicacy in his treatment and manipulation of the emperor, but he thought the emperor would be useful. He was right. But the point was: the Japanese didn't get to dictate the terms of surrender. It was an unconditional surrender.

Japanese surrender
   347. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4330442)
What some don't seem to even consider is the predicament delay and then an invasion place on our soldiers and their families. What would you have said to a parent who asks you: let me get this straight, my son died so you could show mercy to the Japanese enemy? How do you answer that? What does that do to the cohesion of citizens of a nation like ours, knowing that those in higher office thought your death was preferable to the death of an enemy that had showed no mercy? A nation that from the outset had been warned repeatedly of the consequences of the way of war they pursued?

   348. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:13 PM (#4330457)
What American boy gets killed by letting the Russians attack Japan? By the way your two posts contradict each other.
   349. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4330463)
   350. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4330466)
348:

An invasion of Japan only by Russians?

How do my posts contradict each other?
   351. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:22 PM (#4330468)
I'm on a phone so this will be short but in one post you say America must set the terms but then inn the next post you ask how can one tell a mother that her son died so that we could show mercy to the Japanese. You think that mother is going to care a fig about diplomatic jockeying?
   352. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4330478)
351:

Had we not dropped the bomb, showing mercy to the Japanese, but instead invaded, we would have incurred tremendous casualties. Dropping the Bomb instead of invading, we had no casualties. How would you have explained those American losses that could have been prevented to American parents and relatives--hell, to the surviving soldiers?
   353. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4330500)
(323) It's already been answered, but Sherman didn't butcher anybody. Virtually no civilians were killed on his march, and he didn't order a single killing of a civilian or POW. There was no widespread rape either.

The pillaging had been standard military practice for armies living off the land for millenia.
   354. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4330530)
Iwo, for instance, had to be taken because there were too many bombers that were dropping into the ocean after runs at Japan and the distance between Japan and Saipan stretched the range of the bombers. The crews of those bombers would vigorously disagree with you that it served no strategic purpose.


At a cost of 26,000 casualties. I doubt that 1/10 that number of bomber crews were saved as a result of the invasion.
   355. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4330539)
Some wiki on Iwo


Pratt did not know, or else could not disclose, the need to take Iwo Jima for delivery of the atomic bomb. Iwo Jima was designated a crucial emergency landing point for the B-29s carrying the atomic bombs destined for Japan in late 1945, at least four months after the European D-Day (6 June 1944). The 509th Composite Group practiced mock emergency landings on Iwo Jima at its Utah base opened in December 1944.[32] B-29s were not entirely reliable, and engine failure was common. Due to the scarcity of materials and engineering complexity, replacement of the bombs could take many months or even years. Thus planners feared that the loss of the bombs into the Pacific would have delayed the end of the war and potentially forced a full scale invasion of the Japanese mainland. Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the Manhattan Project, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) could not disclose or even hint at the critical need to take Iwo Jima.[33]


Also


In all, 2,251 B-29 landings on Iwo Jima were recorded during the war.[35] Moskin records that 1,191 fighter escorts and 3,081 strike sorties were flown from Iwo Jima against Japan.[36]

The lessons learned on Iwo Jima served as guidelines for the following Battle of Okinawa and the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland. For example, "because of the casualties taken at Iwo Jima on the first day, it was decided to make the preparatory bombardment the heaviest yet delivered on to a Pacific island".[37] Also, in the plan for the attack on the main islands, it was taken into account that around a third of the troops committed to Iwo Jima and again at Okinawa had died.[38] None of these calculations played much if any of a role in the original decision to invade, however, which was almost entirely based on the USAAF's belief that the island would be a useful base for long-range fighter escorts. These escorts proved both impractical and unnecessary, and only ten such missions were ever flown from Iwo Jima.[39] Other justifications are also debatable. Although some Japanese interceptors were based on Iwo Jima, their impact on the American bombing effort was marginal; in the three months before the invasion only 11 B-29s were lost as a result.[40] The Superfortresses found it unnecessary to make any major detour around the island.[41] The capture of Iwo Jima did not affect the Japanese early-warning radar system, which continued to receive information on incoming B-29s from the island of Rota (which was never attacked).[42] Some downed B-29 crewmen were saved by air-sea rescue aircraft and vessels operating from the island, but Iwo Jima was only one of many islands that could have been used for such a purpose. As for the importance of the island as a landing and refueling site for bombers, Marine Captain Robert Burrell, then a history instructor at the United States Naval Academy, suggested that only a small proportion of the 2,251 landings were for genuine emergencies, the great majority possibly being for minor technical checkups, training, or refueling

   356. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4330540)
What happened is somewhat similar to the Booth family and their plot to topple the government.


Well, if I'm exaggerating than that's exaggerating even more. The Booth family were lone actors. There is no way you can describe the Nippon plotters as lone actors. They were sufficiently numerous and close to the situation that they knew where the Emperor's speech was being kept and had people involved who conceivably could gain access to it.

It's equally true that the military, especially the army, was willing to continue fighting. The civilian government and the navy were being more realistic. Ienaga in his book is highly critical of the navy for being so supine towards the army firebreathers. The army totally relied on the navy for its overseas objectives and if the navy had put up a sterner fight, Japan may not have been pulverized so badly and its military tactics so bizarre and nihilistic.
   357. Depressoteric Posted: December 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4330554)
This conversation has made me realize that I really know practically ####-all about the American experience in World War II. Which is ironic, because the focus of my scholarship (I begged off a Ph.D program at the last second) was Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia -- I'm quite familiar with the Eastern front, which is always regarded as "less well known" to Americans...and yet I know far more about that than I do anything about the Pacific Theater, or even the Allied invasion of Europe. I can talk to you about the command styles and personalities of most of the major German and Soviet generals...but I really find myself embarrassed at reading this back-and-forth and realizing how deficient my knowledge is for the American and UK militaries.

Question: for someone who's interested in more than just a light-reading account (i.e. with a tolerance for detail, in-depth assessment, and close argument), what are the best books to pick up on World War II in the Pacific? The Allied coordination and staff-level interactions in Western Europe? I'm hungry -- feed me.

P.S. Count me as one who looks askance at the quasi-revisionist "Soviets really won WWII, not the Allies" argument. The Soviets incurred almost inconceivable numbers of casualties, yes, but mere bloodshed is a damn poor way to assess the caliber of their contribution to the war effort (unless the only metric being used is "availability of meat for the grinder"). The quality of generalship in the early stages of the Russian war was simply atrocious -- and although the military had of course been significantly weakened by the purges during the Great Terror, count me as one who is skeptical that it would have held up much better even had such nominal luminaries as Tukhachevsky, Yakir, and Uborevich not been shot.
   358. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:17 PM (#4330570)
This conversation has made me realize that I really know practically ####-all about the American experience in World War II.


There really is some excellent information being exchanged here. For instance, I know a lot more about MacArthur than I did 2 days ago. Kudos to all who are contributing.
   359. Depressoteric Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4330574)
Proof that maybe yes, we can still have nice things here at Primer.
   360. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4330576)
Correct me if I'm wrong, Esoteric, but wasn't Stalin's rationalization of signing the Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler kind of along the same lines as the French museum quoted above, that he knew Hitler would attack him eventually and it bought time for the allies to become stronger and make a real show of force against him?

Question: for someone who's interested in more than just a light-reading account (i.e. with a tolerance for detail, in-depth assessment, and close argument), what are the best books to pick up on World War II in the Pacific?


Boy, where do you want to begin? Others have quoted Rising Sun, which is sort of a must-read as it gives the best one-volume synopsis of Japan from the American POV. Ienaga's book is equally essential reading, as it gives it from the Japanese POV (though not the POV of the Japanese leadership at the time). I mentioned 1942 before, which I really, really like. Groom covers the Doolittle raid, Wake Island, Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, New Guinea and Midway pretty well (incidentally, Pacific Alamo is superb if you want to read about just Wake Island.

Then on to biographies and memoirs. American Caesar is obviously must-reading, judging from the commentary here (I'll have to get to that one myself). Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary, Manchester's Goodbye Darkness is wonderful, equally rich in panoramic scanning as well as deeply personal, scarring memories. I'm sure others have their favorites.
   361. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM (#4330586)

Question: for someone who's interested in more than just a light-reading account (i.e. with a tolerance for detail, in-depth assessment, and close argument), what are the best books to pick up on World War II in the Pacific?


Second Goodbye Darkness, it's a combination war memoir and historical overview of the war in the pacific, told episodically as Manchester visits (or revists, he fought and was severly wounded on Okinawa) many of the major battlefields of the war.

The absolute must read memoir though, is Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed, which might just be the finest American memoir of that, or any other war. It was one of the major foundations for the HBO series The Pacific, though it was done poor service in the adaptation. Sledge served as a Marine mortarman in the battles for Peleliu and Okinawa, and his account is one of the most honest and unvarnished accounts of the true horror of two of the most unimaginably horrific charnal house slaughter yards of the war.

I also very highly recommend John Dower's War Without Mercy, which I think is the best single volume that uncovers and explores the sociological animosity and racially based antipathy that the American and Japanese felt for each other (something that I would imagine would mirror much of what you know about the fighting on the Eastern Front). I think it's very easy to forget (who wants to remember it honestly, after all) in the current hagiographic haze of the veneration of the "Greatest Generation", just how brutal and inhuman much of the fighting in the Pacific really was and how much of that was rooted in our own ability to hate and dehumanize an opponent our society considered inferior and essentially subhuman (it's not one sided, either, the second half of the book look at the same question from the Japanese side as they promoted Americans as evil devils and inhuman monsters).





   362. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4330590)
I would recommend "The Imperial Cruise" by James Bradley as he goes into some of the history of America's involvement in the Pacific before and after the Spanish- American war and how he feels that some of the decisions that Teddy Roosevelt made led directly to our war with Japan. Although you can take issue with some of his conclusions in that regard, the chapters dealing with our treatment of the Phillipines after we "liberated" it from the Spanish was defintely eye-opening.
   363. Publius Publicola Posted: December 21, 2012 at 07:07 PM (#4330593)
I think it's very easy to forget (who wants to remember it honestly, after all) in the current hagiographic haze of the veneration of the "Greatest Generation", just how brutal and inhuman much of the fighting in the Pacific really was and how much of that was rooted in our own ability to hate and dehumanize an opponent our society considered inferior and essentially subhuman


This is true. In Goodbye Darkness, Manchester recalls approvingly how marines in Guadalcanal would crawl out at night (against orders even) into Japanese positions and slit the throat of one Nippon soldier, leaving another sleeping to find him in the morning devastating psychological warfare, Manchester called it). One more book I recommend because it is both inspiring and gives a good account of the Phillipines actions is Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides, on the Cabanatuan raid that freed 500-something POWs left over from Bataan.
   364. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: December 21, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4330626)
MacArthur" Worst General in US History"


Was going through some sites with MacArthur as a subject and stumbled upon this one. I am sure Ricks goes into more detail somewhere about why he has MacArthur ranked as #1 but I didnt see it here.
   365. bobm Posted: December 21, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4330631)
[302] I liked The Mexican War, 1846-1848 by K. Jack Bauer as an intro. YMMV.
   366. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 08:47 PM (#4330650)
Actually, MacArthur's memoir Reminiscences is quite good. MacArthur has a scholar's mind, too, and he could write. To get ahead in the military during his time, you had to write position papers of a sort. Eisenhower, I believe, claimed to have learned a lot about writing from DM. Of course, his book is one-sided; the surprised would be if it weren't. Look at it as an attorney presenting the brief for his case. It's quite detailed and very forthright, and although critical of others, not overly so. It's analytical, even judicious. You do come away with a portrait of a military mind and a distinctive character. It's a good fast read. It's been years since I revisited it, so take that into account.

EDIT: Just check amazon.com. The present view of MacArthur being what it is, and being set through political lens, I was surprised that it rated so well.
   367. GregQ Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4330661)
Spankz, That was the column that caused me to ask my MacArthur question. I like the almost pathological hatred for him one of the posters has.
   368. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4330666)
Well, if I'm exaggerating than that's exaggerating even more. The Booth family were lone actors. There is no way you can describe the Nippon plotters as lone actors. They were sufficiently numerous and close to the situation that they knew where the Emperor's speech was being kept and had people involved who conceivably could gain access to it.

The Japanese had two minor officers as the actors of the plot and they never did locate the speech nor locate anybody who had access to the speech.
   369. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:40 PM (#4330670)
just how brutal and inhuman much of the fighting in the Pacific really was and how much of that was rooted in our own ability to hate and dehumanize an opponent our society considered inferior and essentially subhuman

My dad, who took pains to teach us about tolerance in the 50s and 60s when most of the neighbors still used the "n" word, still to this day can not call Japanese people anything other that "Japs". We called him out on it a couple of years ago and he said he cannot forgive them for Pearl Harbor (he was 18 at the time).
   370. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4330673)
Had we not dropped the bomb, showing mercy to the Japanese, but instead invaded, we would have incurred tremendous casualties. Dropping the Bomb instead of invading, we had no casualties. How would you have explained those American losses that could have been prevented to American parents and relatives--hell, to the surviving soldiers?

Why is not dropping the bomb and letting Russia declare war and invade Manchuria showing mercy?

The Japanese were holding out hope that the Russians would continue to stay neutral as a thank you to them for not attacking Russia early in the war and that Russia would work to get a settlement for Japan. The Japanese had almost no plans to defend against the Russians because they knew that if the Russians delcared war on them it would be curtains for them. For instance the operational plan to defend the home islands from invasion totally ignored Russian involvement and focused solely on throwing everything the Japanese had into near suicidal to suicidal attacks against American invading troops in the south. The Japanese pulled virtually everything they had in the north to fight the Americans and they were hoping/depending on the Russians to stay neutral. If they didn't the Russians could simply waltzed right through Manchuria and Japan would find itself without even the barest whiff of resources in short order.
   371. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 09:45 PM (#4330674)
   372. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM (#4330676)
I think at this point we're just talking past each other McCoy My point stands regardless of what you say here. The Russians getting involved wouldn't have obviated our having to invade, and invasion would have meant enormous casualties. And when it became known that all of those casualties could have been prevented, there would have been questions of why it had to be if we had the Bomb--questions that no political leader would have been able to defend against. If your point is that had we waited long enough, they would have eventually capitulated, take it as being noted.
   373. Morty Causa Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4330677)
My dad, who took pains to teach us about tolerance in the 50s and 60s when most of the neighbors still used the "n" word, still to this day can not call Japanese people anything other that "Japs". We called him out on it a couple of years ago and he said he cannot forgive them for Pearl Harbor (he was 18 at the time).


It's true. Those who served in the Pacific were hardened in a way and to an extent our veterans in Europe weren't. On those programs on the History Channel and the like, you can see it in their faces. They are hard and to some extent unforgiving. And sad. They had to be. Those captured talk of the brutality they endured, and the type of personal tactics they had to adopt, and the fear they had to overcome, to fight and subdue a fanatical enemy, one that reminds me very much of the present-day Muslim terrorist blowing himself and you up for a higher cause. They got hard, then brutal, then, afterwards, sorrowful.
   374. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4330692)

P.S. Count me as one who looks askance at the quasi-revisionist "Soviets really won WWII, not the Allies" argument. The Soviets incurred almost inconceivable numbers of casualties, yes, but mere bloodshed is a damn poor way to assess the caliber of their contribution to the war effort (unless the only metric being used is "availability of meat for the grinder"). The quality of generalship in the early stages of the Russian war was simply atrocious -- and although the military had of course been significantly weakened by the purges during the Great Terror, count me as one who is skeptical that it would have held up much better even had such nominal luminaries as Tukhachevsky, Yakir, and Uborevich not been shot.


I'm happy to do an Eastern Front hijack of the hijack of the hijack.

Do you think the Germans had any chance of taking Moscow and effectively ending the war in '41 if they didn't divert to the Ukraine? Could a breakout from Stalingrad have saved the 6th Army? What if they bypassed Stalingrad entirely? Could the fallback/mobile defense strategy in'43 (instead of the Kursk offensive) that Guderian and Manstein wanted have allowed the Germans to fight the Soviets to a standstill?
   375. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4330695)
I think at this point we're just talking past each other McCoy My point stands regardless of what you say here. The Russians getting involved wouldn't have obviated our having to invade, and invasion would have meant enormous casualties. And when it became known that all of those casualties could have been prevented, there would have been questions of why it had to be if we had the Bomb--questions that no political leader would have been able to defend against. If your point is that had we waited long enough, they would have eventually capitulated, take it as being noted.

Why do we still have to invade? As I've said now already the Japanese were hoping and praying that the Russians would stay neutral and if they didn't they were finished. Numerous scholars have stated that it is their opinion that it was the Russians entering the war that brought about the capitulation of Japan and not the bombs being dropped on Japanese cities. Hell, the Japanese were practically used to having their cities wiped out. There was virtually no major city left in Japan that wasn't rubble by the time the Americans got around to dropping atomic bombs.

Secondly even if somebody does have to knock the scarecrow over why does it have to be the Americans? The Russians already had 40 divisions stationed above Manchuria. We could have simply provided naval and air support.

Finally as to what we would say to mothers that is largely immaterial because nobody on the planet could comprehend what these bombs were or meant until after it all went down. The idea and power of a nuclear bomb would be too abstract for most of America to properly grasp and get angry over it not being used.

Your view seems to be that we dropped the bombs to hasten the end of the war and prevent American casualties. That isn't exactly a new position to take. I understand it but that position has been questioned numerous times over the years and lots of people that the question and answer isn't as simple as drop A-bombs to save American lives.
   376. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4330699)

I'm happy to do an Eastern Front hijack of the hijack of the hijack.


Obviously luck will always play a role but the Germans were doomed to lose that war the moment they decided to wage it.

Moscow was a symbolic and yet useless target for the Germans which is why they eventually shifted south in an attempt to get the resources they desperately needed. You can't really bypass Stalingrad and remain an effective fighting force and finally a change in tactics once the offensive stalled would merely delay the inevitable. The Russians had too many men, tanks, and planes to throw at the Germans while the Germans were busy fighting on two fronts and preparing to defend a third front.


The Allied victory against the Germans was a team effort in that it was Russian blood and American grease that won the war* but most of the fighting credit should go to the Russians for winning that war.

*The British provided mustaches or something
   377. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4330704)

Obviously luck will always play a role but the Germans were doomed to lose that war the moment they decided to wage it.

Moscow was a symbolic and yet useless target for the Germans which is why they eventually shifted south in an attempt to get the resources they desperately needed. You can't really bypass Stalingrad and remain an effective fighting force and finally a change in tactics once the offensive stalled would merely delay the inevitable. The Russians had too many men, tanks, and planes to throw at the Germans while the Germans were busy fighting on two fronts and preparing to defend a third front.


The Allied victory against the Germans was a team effort in that it was Russian blood and American grease that won the war* but most of the fighting credit should go to the Russians for winning that war.

*The British provided mustaches or something


I think you underestimate the importance of Moscow. It was the center of the whole Russian rail network, plus a large industrial and (obviously) population center.
   378. McCoy Posted: December 21, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4330709)
I think you underestimate the importance of Moscow. It was the center of the whole Russian rail network, plus a large industrial and (obviously) population center.

And as the Russians showed by moving their entire industrial complex east during a brutal invasion that doesn't really mean a lot. Unlike the French who seem perpetually ready to surrender the moment a hamlet is taken the Russians didn't really care about the occupation of cities nor view them as terrible blows*. Historically if you wanted to defeat the Russians you had to destroy the army, take the cities, and hold all that territory while everybody and their babushka mother was trying to jab you in the back with a knife. Which is why very very few people have been able to conquer and hold Russia. You basically need a group of people like the Mongols who don't have a modern view of civilization and are migratory to take and hold Russia.


*This is obviously a bit of hyperbole but losing cities was not and would not be a death blow to the Russians. Leningrad was starved almost to death and it wasn't taken. Stalingrad was practically blasted off the face of the earth and it wasn't taken. There is little evidence to support the notion that the Germans could take and hold Moscow either.
   379. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:26 AM (#4330772)
The Japanese had two minor officers as the actors of the plot and they never did locate the speech nor locate anybody who had access to the speech.


It was hardly just two minor officers. There were several officers, a few colonels. General Anami, the senior army minister, knew about it and lent passive, if not active, support. The general of the Imperial Guard Hori was assassinated, leaflets were dropped on all the significant military bases in the area declaring the coup, and a regiment of soldiers was directly involved. It failed because it was hastily organized and the reluctance on the part of the army war council to defy the emperor, not because it lacked support. If you want to analogize, it was closer in scope and breath to the plot to kill Hitler than the Lincoln plot.
   380. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4330773)
Well, saying Anami lent passive support is stretching it a bit. Anami held a meeting in which he gathered up the senior army officers and had them all pledge to stay loyal and not to rebel. He was aware that some minor officers wanted to do something but at that point in the game I'd expect any officer on a losing side to hear a lot of fustration and crackpot plans. A major and a Lt. Col lied, killed, and bluffed their way into getting a couple of units to join their cause. It amounted to a bunch of nothing as they could not get the army to join their cause nor find the speech or get on the air themselves. Finally when it became apparent that their little plan would fail and nobody was joining them they took off on horseback and on a motorcycle tossing leaflets as they went.

This was not a serious coup attempt in any real way nor was the leaders of the army at any time behind this plot. You had a major mastermind it and spearhead it with the help of a captain and a lt. Col.
   381. Morty Causa Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:54 AM (#4330782)
Numerous scholars have stated that it is their opinion that it was the Russians entering the war that brought about the capitulation of Japan


And numerous scholars think otherwise. Moreover, this seems to be about indulging in a lot of second-guessing and engaging in not putting yourself in the time and place when the events took place. Of engaging in rank presentism. I'm sure the Russian entry had some effect in some way, but, undeniably, so did the Bombs. Even those who promote the revisionism really don’t deny this.

wiki has what looks like a really detailed discussion of the issues, with cites and links

One of the links there is to this back and forth:

Hirohito was impressed with the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima, as were others; moreover, he and others close to him those he took advice from, and many in the government, wanted to continue to fight

It is simply not correct to claim that Hirohito and the decision makers were not impressed by the A-bombs. There's an appreciable difference between destruction and death over months and instantaneous annihilation, which is something that Hirohito and other policy makers grasped right off.
   382. Morty Causa Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:55 AM (#4330785)
Highly regarded book on the subject:

Downfall by Richard Frank

Which is discussed here along with other references:

These and other works culminated in Richard B. Frank’s Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire, published in 1999. Frank brought together the evidence already mentioned and a great deal more, including crucial Japanese-language sources, leaving virtually every aspect of the revisionist case in tatters. It was not long before Downfall gained widespread recognition as the definitive work on the subject. Against this background, the cancellation of the Smithsonian Institution’s proposed exhibit to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, which relied almost exclusively on revisionist scholarship, was only the most publicized setback suffered by proponents of the revisionist case during the 1990s.

Hasegawa rejects some parts of the revisionist case, including the critically important thesis that Japan could have been induced to surrender prior to the events of August 6-9, when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan (August 8). Instead, Hasegawa attempts to resuscitate the revisionist critique of Truman by arguing that the United States wanted to use the atomic bomb against Japan prior to the Soviet entry into the war in order to thwart Moscow’s ambitions in the Far East. This in turn created a race to use the bomb and get Tokyo to surrender before the Soviets declared war on the beleaguered empire. That race, of course, was lost, for although Hiroshima preceded the Soviet entry into the Pacific War, the Japanese surrender did not. Beyond that, Hasegawa argues, Japan surrendered not because of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki but because of the Soviet declaration of war that took place between those two dreadful nuclear explosions.

Despite Hasegawa’s sources in three languages, his evidence does not back up his claims. Furthermore, at times his methodology is faulty. In particular, Hasegawa at key points in his narrative takes excessive liberty in interpreting his sources.

It certainly is true, as Hasegawa points out, that Truman and his advisors wanted to get the bomb ready and to use it against Japan as soon as possible. After all, as leaders of a democratic and war-weary country, they were in a great hurry to end the war. Both General George Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson were deeply worried about the state of public and military morale. Hasegawa transforms that well documented concern into a race to keep the Soviet Union out of the Pacific War, with the key planning in that race being done at Potsdam. But the American (and Anglo-American) discussions at Potsdam regarding their difficult communist ally were not about keeping the Soviets out of the Pacific War. They were about the postwar price the U.S. would have to pay to get the Soviets into the war, and the problem was that Stalin’s price was turning out to be too high. That is why after he received the report from General Leslie Groves about the successful atomic bomb test, Truman had Stimson ask Marshall if the American military could do without the Soviets. (Marshall’s response was that the Soviets were in a position to take what they wanted in the Far East, with or without a declaration of war.) The president wanted Soviet military help, but he did not want to pay Stalin’s rising price. For example, as Maddox points out in Weapons for Victory, Truman’s intent to have the Soviets enter the Pacific War is demonstrated by what he wrote to his wife on July 18 (“I’ve gotten what I came for––Stalin goes to war August 15 with no strings on it”).


Kort's summarization against the revisionists, citing Sadao Asada and Richard Frank and others

Read the entire essay. The author summarizes the issues thoroughly. He’s anti-revisionists and anti-new-revisionists, but makes the issues in controversy clear.
   383. Morty Causa Posted: December 22, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4330790)
Your view seems to be that we dropped the bombs to hasten the end of the war and prevent American casualties. That isn't exactly a new position to take.


Yeah, it’s the standard one since oh at least July 1945. Do you deny it? See Kort's essay shows that it is not true that Truman didn't want the Soviets to enter the conflict.

I understand it but that position has been questioned numerous times over the years and lots of people that the question and answer isn't as simple as drop A-bombs to save American lives.


Sure. But there was going to be an invasion (it’s no use asking why this had to be, as the forces were being aggregated), unless Japan unconditionally surrendered (see Byrnes’s comment in Kort’s essay), and if there was going to be an invasion, there was going to be casualties, and if there were casualties that could have been prevented by the bombs (and the idea that the bombs would have been kept secret if they hadn’t been used is not believable), then someone was going to ask those questions, and those policy makers would have been left strumming their lips.

Yes, the bomb didn’t impress the Japanese but it impressed the Soviets.
   384. Morty Causa Posted: December 22, 2012 at 02:45 AM (#4330798)
Incomparably more weighty were Foreign Minister Togo and Kido who, as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, was the emperor’s ‘eyes and ears.’ Their records vividly reveal how shocked the emperor was by the Hiroshima bomb. A scientist, Hirohito understood its destructive power.


I agree with Richard B. Frank that Vice Chief of Staff Kawabe was determined to continue the war and he was supported in this by War Minister Anami on August 9 and Chief of Staff Umezu at the Imperial Conference of August 10. It was the emperor’s ‘sacred decision’ that finally made military leaders accept surrender. And what moved the emperor was the shock of the atomic bomb.


Asada's rebuts revisionist Hasagawa
   385. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 02:48 AM (#4330799)
I've never claimed that Truman didn't want the Russians involved. In fact I've been suggesting that Russians could have played a key role in an attack against japan.


Nor did i claim the bombs would have been kept secret. Though the bombs were kept secret during the war so I'm not sure what exactly you're worrying about on that front.
   386. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4330800)
You talk to me about second guessing and time and place and all that and yet you fill post after post with context free proof that your view is correct. The emperor and Japan traveled far to get to august 9th.
   387. Sunday silence Posted: December 22, 2012 at 03:37 AM (#4330805)
Question: for someone who's interested in more than just a light-reading account (i.e. with a tolerance for detail, in-depth assessment, and close argument), what are the best books to pick up on World War II in the Pacific?


I think I mentioned this somewhere. YOu should really check out John Costello: The War in the Pacific. A very readable, fairly comprehensive one vol treatment. The narrative hits all the main battles but is also is not afraid to go down to the individual fighters in many cases. It will give you some anecdotes about the pilots escaping on the Doolitle mission and such stuff.

   388. Sunday silence Posted: December 22, 2012 at 03:55 AM (#4330807)

Pickett's charge is certainly a big black mark against Lee. The only logical explanation would be that he thought his flank attacks had drawn so many troops from the Union center, that the line was very weak.


The thing that keeps coming back to me on this issue, is that Wright's Georgia brigade got almost to this exact spot (maybe say 150 yards south of the copse of trees) during the second day of the battle. In fact he did not meet any tough resistance that might have stopped him and he pretty much retreated on his own accord.

There's a lot to be said about this incident of the battle. Obviously Wright got his intact formation there only because there was so much confusion and so much intensity of battle going on all over the battlefield. Union troops were funnelled in from all over the place and commanders were running all about and no one had a complete view of everything, let alone whatever sector they were in. So again as in so many ACW battles it is seen how powerful coordinated attacks can be and it also suggests that getting to the top of Cementary Ridge might not be as easy under different circumstances.

I dunno how much has been written about this, it may have influenced Lee decision to make the famous assault on the third day by a great deal.

What happened with Wright on the second day is that nobody else went there to support him. I think Wilcox's brigade moved forward and maybe parts of the FL brigade. Pender's division I think was more or less unengaged, but that general was mortally wounded that afternoon and may have had an effect on their lack of engagement. This entire second days effort on the part of the CSA seems ad libbed; not that the Union's effort wasnt, but that understandable as some of their lines were broken. The CSA attack seeems like Lee was committed to sending at least LOngstreet's two divisions in with Hill's corps standing around watching. The south's real high water mark is this aspect of the battle, late afternoon of the second day. Their best chance might have been at that point and time.

It's hard to totally accept what you are saying in the quoted section. The flank attacks had drawn away large portion of the union army but that was only momentarily. It would be wishful thinking to suppose that by the third day that a civil war army would leave a large unprotected gap in its center. I think its interesting that Lee didnt say anything like that at the time, only that "meades army is there so I will atack him," or something akin to that.

Longstreet's plan to maneuver to the southward in order to draw the union army after it is worthy of consideration. However, one can hardly blame Lee for hoping to end the war in one fell swoop as it were. There might have been perhaps, no better time. Gawd knows, that in hindsight it is clear that the south would not have good chances in a long term war, but a short term war they might actually pull it off.

I cant agree that one bad decision can otherwise would negate someone's innate military genius. Surely, Hannibal, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Frederick the Great, and Rommel all made mistaken decisions in there career. That certainly cannot be the criterion otherwise it is hard to see who you would put in your panthenon of the miliary genius.

I think they made a good case for MacArthur above. He did have benefit of loads of intelligence due to remarkable code breaking, but give him credit for using it, for second guessing what they came up with; and for making audacious decisions that saved lots of casualties when his intelligence suggested it. There are lots of hard core commanders who have simply attacked straight ahead. The destruction of his air force in the first day of the Phillipines was of course, a bad blemish.

If one bad decision does not negate a military genius it would be insane to suggest that Patton slapping those guys would somehow invalidate his place in military history. Do try to separate a man's morality or his character from an objective look at what is military genius. Those commanders mentioned above I am sure were all bastards at certain moments.

   389. Sunday silence Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:23 AM (#4330813)

While I acknowledge your point, I wouldn't take it that far. I read the same book that McPerson reviews above and I was very disappointed as well. But I think Keegan is highly competent to rate commanders on their battlefield performance asnd leadership styles, especially Grant. In fact, in The Mask of Command, he describes in detail the leadership style of Alexander the Great, Wellington and Grant, using Hitler as a negative counterpoint. That book got very good reviews.


The only book I read of Keegan's that I felt was well done was the Face of Battle or whatever it was. And let's face it, that book was one of his first, done many years ago and its point of view is very well tailored to focus on simply how it felt to be in the ranks. It works on that level. It is of course, not a complete primer on weapons, or tactics or generalship, but rather simply what it's like to hold a metal pike in your hands on a cold winter day etc.

His other works, where he tries to hit all aspects like political, tactical etc. are a far cry from classics. At least the ones I skimmed. It would be folly to accept anything Keegan says as the last word on generalship. I think you will find that in the long haul he is going to be remember more for a clear writing style and some interesting points of view, but not hardly on scholarship.

Truly Keegan is fluff. Relying on him just detracts from any real argument you could make here.
   390. Sunday silence Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:37 AM (#4330814)
As I mentioned before Brice's Crossroads is still taught as Sandhurst. It's a masterpiece of small unit tactics (Forrest was outnumbered about than 2-1, and the Union forces were better equipped) The Union lost about 2,600 (1,500 prisoners and 16 guns) of a force of 8,500 and Forrest lost 492 of about 3,200. (as usual it's a guess as to how many effectives either side had entering the battle. The 3,200 to 8,500 is the consensus as best I can tell)


Not sure what the pt. is but if it's cavalry commanders it is hard to believe that Forrest was better than Jeb Stuart. Clearly the best leaders of the war fought in the east. Not Forrest's fault, to be sure, but Stuart was probably doing an even greater function by enabling Lee with intelligence.

Also Brandy Station is a well studied battle and that is Stuart's.
   391. GregQ Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4330834)
I think that Forrest was at least Stuart's equal if not superior. Stuart had the huge advantage that all of the Calv. in the Army of Northern Virginia was under his direct command and not split up. He never faced equal numbers. When it Union finally followed suite just prior to Gettysburg his success as a cavalry commander pretty much vanished. Forrest never fought with the advantageous odds that Stuart had and yet was successful for much longer. I think it was Sherman that remarked that most raiders in the rear were just pesky annoyances yet he knew that when Forrest's men were there it was real trouble. They did not just tear up the occasion railroad track but completely destroyed rail lines.
   392. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4330835)
He was aware that some minor officers wanted to do something but at that point in the game I'd expect any officer on a losing side to hear a lot of fustration and crackpot plans.


I think you stretch the definition of "minor officers" a bit. Prior to the meeting with the generals, officers immediately subordinate to Adami proposed their opposition to the surrender and their intention to prevent it and Adami, while not agreeing to lead it, did not order them to cease and desist either. A colonel of a combat regiment will command several thousand men. Several thousand trained soldiers can do a lot of damage.

Adami's role then was somewhat like that of General Fromm in the Hitler plot. The only difference between the "Kyujo Incident" (don't you love the way the Japanese euphemize their history? A plot to overthrow the emperor and upend hundreds of years of tradition is called an "incident") and the Hitler assassination plot was the Kyujo Incident was hastily arranged and so had little chance of any success. And whether it was crackpot or not, the plan involved kidnapping the emperor. If that doesn't represent serious intentions to a Japanese officer, nothing does.
   393. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4330887)
I'm not sure what your point is. All the evidence points to very very few officers taking part in the plot and none of the top leaders taking part. Saying a lt col took part doesn't disprove the notion that the military leaders would accept a surrender. At this point it just feels like your quibbling with me for the sake of quibbling.
   394. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4330889)
Truly Keegan is fluff. Relying on him just detracts from any real argument you could make here.


Well, these statements are just false in their entirety. Keegan is a little different than a lot of military historians in that he tends to focus on the experience of battle, the psychological demands this places on the soldier and the society that sends him off to battle. But this is what makes Keegan important in that he has focused on a neglected area (not surprising he is interested in this given he is British, his primary interest is WWI and the singular trauma of British military history is that conflict, and the "Lost Generation" meme. I imagine that is why he wrote the book on the American Civil War. It presaged the carnage that was to occur in western Europe in the mid 1910s). Given the focus that both the military establishment and the medical community is beginning to apply (finally!) to PTSD resulting from the traumatizing effects of counterinsurgency combat our soldiers are suffering from, I would hardly describe that as "fluff".
   395. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4330895)
All the evidence points to very very few officers taking part in the plot


That's my point. It has been documented that there were a lot more than "very, very few officers taking part". I agree with you the plot was inept and did not have the active support of the most senior members of the army. But given that it was not suppressed by these senior members (who all knew what was going on, at least generally if not in the details) I think the evidence supports the notion that they were not yet ready to throw in the towel emotionally and would have jumped on board if the thing actually appeared to be succeeding. That they had to actually have a meeting to agree not to interfere with the emperor's speech also supports that. And by extension, this supports Marty's and Johnny S's contention that Japan would have continued to fight to the last man had the bomb not been dropped and Japan shocked into surrendering, if the emperor had not intervened and the militarists had continued to get their way. They were not yet ready to surrender, even after the bomb was dropped. The liberal faction was but the liberal faction wasn't in power at that time, the militarists were. Ienaga documents very clearly in his book how the liberals and realists were marginalized leading up to Japan's stab at being a global military power.
   396. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4330901)
Okay, so what is a lot more? 4 officers? 6 officers?

The top military leaders gathered together and declared their loyalty to the Emperor and to the decision to surrender almost immediately after coup agitators spoke to Anami. Not a single high ranking leader or commander joined the coup and all leaders that were approached either didn't take it seriously, refused, or refused and were killed. There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that high ranking officials within the Japanese military were just waiting to see if the coup would succeed or not nor do I see the meeting to make the surrender clear as proof that they were waffling. Japan was surrendering and I'm sure there was a lot of frustration and anger inside the military. Anami had just been approached by people that wanted to take up arms against the Emperor. I'm not shocked that they would then hold a meeting to make it perfectly clear what was going to happen.
   397. Publius Publicola Posted: December 22, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4330915)
Anami had just been approached by people that wanted to take up arms against the Emperor.


They didn't want to take up arms against the emperor. They intended to kidnap him and so prevent a surrender because they wanted to continue fighting. That was their motivation. They didn't want to surrender. ####, you had isolated soldiers who wouldn't give up after 30 years!
   398. McCoy Posted: December 22, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4330928)
Okay, besides quibbling with me over words what is your point? Are you simply quibbling with the statement of "very very few officers"? Gimme a number and I guarantee you that when compared to all officers or even just non-junior officers the amount will be very very few.

My point from the beginning was that the notion that the coup was proof that the military leaders were openly hostile to surrender is false. Saying a handful of officers didn't want to surrender and hatched a crackpot plan doesn't prove that the high command or the general staff or the commanding officers were openly hostile to surrender by mid 1945. I'd also say that since virtually no one joined the coup and the military leadership went along with the surrender that that is rock hard proof that the military leadership by mid 1945 was ready to surrender.
   399. Sunday silence Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4330960)


I think that Forrest was at least Stuart's equal if not superior


I you can certainly make a case that he is a better battlefield commander, I think the final analysis depends on how much weight you put on Stuart's gathering of intelligence. And also a bit of the relative abilities of western vs eastern commanders.
   400. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4330971)
Obviously luck will always play a role but the Germans were doomed to lose that war the moment they decided to wage it.


Not necessarily. The Germans anticipated that two things would happen:

1. Britain under Churchill would refuse to support the Soviet Union actively;
2. Japan would abrogate its treaty with the Soviet Union and jump into the fray.

Had those happened, it's certainly possible that the Germans could have achieved their strategic objectives in the Soviet Union - and neither was a completely unreasonable expectation.

-- MWE
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