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View Diary: 70 Years After the Day of Infamy: The Real Lessons of Pearl Harbor (134 comments)

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  •  Should probably mention... (3+ / 0-)

    ...that the Soviets had as much if not more to do with Japan's ultimate surrender than the Americans.

    •  The firebombing of Tokyo with conventional bombs (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radarlady, JayBat, Marie, mookins, TofG

      ...killed more than the atomic weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

      That's not to diminish the horror of nuclear weapons, but the government of Japan considered to learn to live with atomic strategic bombing to continue the war.

      It was when the Soviets took Manchuria that really was the impetus to agree to unconditional surrender.

      •  Actually, I think the Americans on Okinawa had (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geekesque, TofG

        more to do with it than that. The USSR was a tiny player in the pacific that did little to tip the balance.

      •  Chronology does not determine causality (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        International Progressive

        Manchuria fell so rapidly because Japan was already hollow by that time. Saying the USSR contributed more to Japan's defeat is like saying the 12th man on an NBA team won the game, because his only shot of the game went in at the buzzer during a 120-80 blowout.

      •  The Soviets were of little consequence in Japan's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        International Progressive

        surrender. In 1943 1944, when it looked like a major invasion of the home islands was necessary, Russia's involvement was important to reduce American casualties, but by mid-1945 it wasn't needed, and Manchuria wasn't essential to ending the war. Just as well for Japan, since it might have been occupied like post war Germany was.

        •  I misspoke (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TofG

          Of course Americans did the brunt of the fighting against Japan.  I probably should have qualified my post with a more detailed explanation for what I meant to say.

          I was influenced by another article I had read years ago that made the case that the dramatic effect of the atomic bombs on Japan overshadowed traditional bombing methods and the conventional fighting by American military forces.

          But when the Soviets broke the non-aggression pact with Japan and took Manchuria, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  They were barely holding their own against the Americans to their East, and now they would have to contend against the Soviets on their West.

          •  My attempt at over-simplification. (0+ / 0-)

            Downfall get getting delayed. It probably would not have happened until 1946. Wiki points out--not sure if it's true but I've heard it before--that Soviets had plans to invade Hokkaido by the end of 1945. Even if Downfall had gone off in 1945 at the planned time, the Japanese had planned to throw the majority of their defenses against the Americans leaving little left to use against the Soviets.

            From Japan's point of view Manchuria made them think about whether they would prefer surrendering to the Americans or the Russians. Which is why I say that the actual impetus to surrender was driven by the Soviets, especially when you only compare it to the effects of the atom bombs as opposed to other western allied operations in the Pacific.

    •  Uh, no. Japan was ready to surrender when the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      journeyman, Geekesque, Marcus Graly

      USSR finally entered the was, just in time to claim two islands from the Japanese homeland.

      The USSR's attention, properly, was to the existential threat the Nazis posed on their European frontier. But entering the pacific war just days before the surrender cannot be said to have contributed to that war effort at all.

      •  I don't know about that. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        T100R, Plubius, the fan man, zonk, TofG

        I think that there has long been a tendency of some of those on the left to give too much credit to the USSR (usually ignoring the fact that more noncombatants died as a result of the Soviet intervention than did because of the bombs) and downplay the significance of the bombs.  It always sort of confuses me as to why, if the bombs had no effect, they were then such a transcendental atrocity.

        That said, I think the Soviet intervention was certainly a contributing factor.

        Was it sufficient to force a surrender?  I don't think so.

        Was it necessary?  I'm less sure here, but again, I don't think so.

        However, it certainly added to the atmosphere of crisis that helped the peace faction to push surrender through.  But my guess is that they may have been more concerned with reports that Tokyo was the next atomic target than they were with the still distant Soviets.

        History is won by the writers.

        by journeyman on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 12:07:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think it was any one thing.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          journeyman, TofG

          ....that caused the surrender.

          After Tojo resigned (Summer, 1944), the Japanese War Cabinent started to feature some more pragmatic voices (instead of the fatalistic war mongers dominating the entire discussion)

          The XXth Air Forces conventional bombing campaign played a part as did the USN's submarine warfare program (as mentioned, the Japanese lost her shipping fleet meaning that whatever war booty left in the South Seas was pointless....they couldn't ship the raw materials back to the Home Islands.)

          The use of the Bomb plus the rapid advance of the Red Army in Manchuria sealed the deal.

          ************
          Fantstic piece of work.  Rec'd and saved in my 'Favorites' for further reading

          I got yer 'pony'.....RIGHT HERE (don't ask what I did with the 'unicorn.')

          by jds1978 on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:10:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The war had long since been lost. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TofG

            The fire raids and the sub campaign were certainly a lange part of that, but I think the big question was when those with the wisdom to know that would wrest control from the hard-liners.  I think the bombs and the Soviet intervention made it possible for them to do just that.

            History is won by the writers.

            by journeyman on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 02:32:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The Japanese radioed offers of surrender weeks (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TofG

              before the Soviet declaration of war. Truman turned down the first and ignored the second, because they were requests to negotiate a surrender, but the US had long before demanded unconditional, full surrender.

              I think if anything collapsed the militant opposition to peace, it was the bomb at Hiroshima, though many denied that just one bomb could do that. It was right after the Nagasaki bomb that MacArthur accepted their surrender on behalf of the US.

              I've never been a fan of criticizing Truman for the use of the bomb. He was facing the loss of more than 100,000 soldiers if he had to invade Japan, and he wanted to avoid that. To him, it was just a bigger bomb.

              But I'll say it one more time: the Soviets didn't even enter the equation. While the US had been begging them to enter the Pacific war since the start of Germany's collapse, they dithered until the last minute. The Japanese were beaten already.

              •  The Japanese were beaten after Midway (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TofG, fidel

                The question was under what terms a peace could be reached.  

                On that question, they didn't dither.  They were dead-locked: The Supreme War Council was split 3 -3, with Anami simply refusing surrender while Japan still had 3 million soldiers in China.  

                There was no 'they' to dither.    The military simply did what it wished, and the civilians could do nothing. There simply was no mechanism to change that, to compel Anami et al to do what they did not wish.

                This was how the war started.   It was how the war ended.

                It was the same problem: why we fought them and why we decided to invade them and restructure their society.

              •  They most certainly entered the equation (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TofG

                I think it's a question of degree.

                The Japanese had been heavily working diplomatic channels with Moscow all throughout the summer of 45 -- and were fairly shocked when the Soviets invaded, and also lost nearly their entire Kwantung Army in the opening advances of the attack.  

                The Red Army's advance into Manchuria actually covered more miles in a shorter amount of time than the Nazi invasion into Russia -- if memory serves, they took nearly half a million prisoners in the course of about a week and a half.

                I'm not at all lauding the Soviets -- Stalin just wanted to get his chess pieces in place in the east before it was over -- but the Japanese Army in particular was rife with radical elements that were quite willing to go to suicidal lengths to avoid an unconditional surrender... The Manchurian invasion didn't necessarily change their minds - but I think it did convince enough of the IJA that their situation was hopeless... that they were soon going to lose all of the territory they still held on mainland Asia... and that the Soviets/Stalin - who remember, had pretty much crushed the Japanese army in a couple of late 30s skirmishes before the Soviet-Japanese non-aggression pact - weren't going to be deterred into a negotiated surrender like they believed the Americans would because the casualties got too high.

                I'm not saying it was 50% or even 30% of the equation... but I think it played a measurable and significant part in ensuring that Hirohito's speech is broadcast and the surrender signed.

                Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

                by zonk on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:16:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'm sorry, but this is not true (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Plubius

                As I have demonstrated here, Japan was nowhere close to surrender before August 6.

                History is won by the writers.

                by journeyman on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:54:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I've not read any of the reports on the inner (0+ / 0-)

                  workings of the Japanese government, so I will yield to superior knowledge; I do know there are reports of the US recieving radio transmissions requesting peace negotiations, which Truman ignored. Those reports may not be accurate; I've not bothered to source them. I do agree that the military was not ready to surrender even the day after the first bomb.

                  The main point I was arguing, which you support, was that the Soviets didn't enter the war until the very end and, therefore, had no real role in the Pacific war. Their only role was to take the islands that Japan now wants back (the Kurile Islands?).

                  The victory in the pacific was really ours and Australia. The "island hopping" strategy proved successful. The Soviets had no part of it.

                  Wait, I'm repeating myself. But thank you for the response to my comment.

                  •  You are correct that there were some (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VigilantLiberal

                    diplomatic initiatives seeking to attain a settlement of the war in the summer of 1945, but these have to be distinguished from a "surrender" offer because either they lacked official backing or they had no real substance to them.  American intelligence did intercept and decrypt some of these messages, but their conclusion concerning them is that they did not represent a serious effort with any chance of achieving success even within Japan.  Their analysis was, I believe, fundamentally correct.

                    I agree with you about the United States having the main role and Australia certainly played an outsized role in the war considering the size of its population, manufacturing base, and economy.

                    Also, I agree that the Soviets did not play as much of a role as many people seem to think.

                    At any rate, thanks once again for taking the time to read my diary and thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I quite enjoyed our exchange and I hope you did as well.

                    History is won by the writers.

                    by journeyman on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 02:26:09 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

          As you note - the Tokyo firebombings actually produced higher casualties than the atomic bombs, and elements of the Japanese Army in particular were prepared to fight to the point of utter extinction.

          The Soviet's storming into Manchuria -- and even after the Potsdam acceptance with conditions followed by a week of back-and-forthers, the Soviets were absolutely rampaging -- was actually what gave the realists the upper hand in finally suppressing the madness of Anami and others.

          The Japanese still held large swaths of Asia - and while they lacked any transport and industrial capacity at that point to make use of it, there were definitely those who felt that they could at least use that for a face saving settlement rather than unconditional surrender.

          Remember, too -- before the US Island hopping campaign, it had been the Soviets in the late 30s border war that really scared the Japanese... Early Zhukov utterly overwhelming and crushing the Japanese 6th army at Khalkhin Gol had led the Japanese to insist on having no part of the Red Army after Danzig.  

          Both certainly played their role -- and I'm not coming at this from any "give the USSR credit in the east" perspective (in fact, the Soviets kept right on rolling even after the peace accords were done... they were no heroes in that regard -- Stalin just wanted to get his pawns set in the east even as his curtain was descending in the west), but I just have to wonder... even after the 2nd bombing - the cabinet was still split, and there was the officer's coup that very nearly was able to prevent Hirohito's 'endure the unendurable' speech.

          If the Red Army wasn't rampaging on mainland Asia and they took enormous chunks of ground quicker than the German blitzkrieg had done so in the early 40s (if memory serves, they had even captured the puppet emperor in matter of days) -- does Hata not decide to throw in the towel?  Does Hatanaka succeed in winning more higher up allies?  Does Tanaka either decide not to convince the officer's coup to leave the palace -- or -- is he unsuccessful?

          Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

          by zonk on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:07:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is how I see it (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fidel, TofG, raines

            It's a bit like a situation where a man wakes to find his bed empty.  He then finds a note on the kitchen table from his wife informing him that she has decided to leave him.  Staggering into work in a daze he is greeted by his boss with the news that he is fired.  Later that day, while he is drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole, the bartender asks him what the problem is.  After the man tells him, the bartender asks, "So are you depressed because your wife left you, or is it because you lost your job?"

            It doesn't seem a particularly fruitful line of inquiry to me.

            That allowed, I am confident that the Soviets had nothing to do with suppressing the coup.  It was a question of what constituted loyalty to the nation and the emperor.  The fanatics had their definition and the loyalists had theirs.  The Soviets had nothing to do with it.

            Moreover, there is evidence that the move for surrender began prior to the Soviet declaration of war.  On August 7, Foreign Minister Togo met with Hirohito in private conference.  Although we have no record of this meeting, we do know that Togo later told an associate that the Emperor had instructed him to begin exploring a peace settlement along the lines of the Potsdam Declaration.  Admittedly, this is not first hand testimony, but we also know that the Foreign Ministry began burning their records on that day, before the Soviet declaration of war.  To me, the evidence seems pretty clear that, though it was certainly a contributing factor and helped, as one member of the peace faction later put it, "make things go smoothly", that it was likely neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to end the war.

            History is won by the writers.

            by journeyman on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 05:50:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Um, no. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geekesque, Marcus Graly

      The Soviets did not war upon japan until August 1945. It is ludicrous to suggest the Soviets had as much as the US WRT to defeat of Japan. By 1945 Japan was starving, out of fuel and metal. Her navy and more importantly, her fleets of cargo ships were sunk. Japan was defeated long before a single Soviet soldier entered that war.

      The Soviets did a lot more fighting against German than the USA, but that does not apply to Japan.

    •  If you ignore the first 42 months of the war. eom (0+ / 0-)

      "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

      by Geekesque on Wed Dec 07, 2011 at 01:40:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. The Soviets were of no consequence to the (0+ / 0-)

      Japanese surrender. Earlier FDR wanted Russia in because it looked like major attacks on Manchuria and the home islands would be called for but, as it happened, that was not required. Fortunately for Japan, since there would probably have been a divided Japan, like post-war Germany.

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