Links 5/11/16

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Nearly 4,100 sea turtles sucked into Florida power plant Digital Journal (heresy 101) :-(

Global Warming Cited as Wildfires Increase in Fragile Boreal Forest New York Times (David L)

Facebook’s ‘trending topics’ spark debate and distrust CNN. Furzy: “I noticed last week that Twitter dropped #DumpHillary which was trending magnificently to the top!”

Amazon unveils its own version of YouTube CNN (furzy)

Mossack Fonseca

Panama Papers and “radical sharing” (Greed By Another Name) Tim Durusau

Prime Minister Key disciplined by Speaker for panamapapers rowdiness New Zealand Herald (Richard Smith)


China mouthpiece echoes Soros’ debt fears Financial Times. Major jawboning or expectations management?

Moody’s: This is the size of China’s debt problem CNBC

China scrambles fighters as U.S. sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef Reuters (furzy)

Queen says Chinese officials were ‘very rude’ during president’s state visit Guardian (furzy)

US and China skirmish as trade clash looms Financial Times

Obama to visit Hiroshima, will not apologize for World War Two bombing Reuters. Calling Clive. How is the Japanese press depicting the failure to apologize?

Alert: The European Financial Dictatorship seriously threatens France failed evolution


Brexit Would Have Huge Impact On London Financial Firms, Says JWG Report Forbes

Quitting EU not British, Brown says BBC

EU favours the wealthy – Duncan Smith BBC. Note the two BBC stories do not contradict each other.

EU to launch kettle and toaster crackdown after Brexit vote Telegraph


‘Everyone’s outraged’: angry Greeks foresee Grexit and drachma’s revival Guardian (Sid S)

Greece captured in death spiral Defend Democracy

Greek Bond Yields Drop Below 8 Percent MarketPulse


Russia poised to unleash ‘Son of Satan’ ICBM The Register (Dr. Kevin)


Exclusive: Say goodbye to OPEC, powerful Putin pal predicts Reuters

Turkey’s Border Guards Are Killing Refugees — Human Rights Watch EA WorldView (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Prosecutor asks for sentences below the maximum in LuxLeaks trial Reuters (EM)

GPS Tracking Devices Catch Major U.S. Recyclers Exporting Toxic E-Waste Intercept (resilc)

Encryption Gets in The Way of 75% of Cases, Europol Chief Says Motherboard. Resilc: “Trust me, I’m the police.”

Demo Day: Breakthrough Technologies for National Security Darpa (guurst)

Hackers Attempt to Hold Capitol Hill Data for Ransom Intercept (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

US: Neglected nation Financial Times

Clinton E-mail Hairball

Clinton aide leaves interview when FBI asks off-limits question Washington Post (furzy)

Released Emails Show Use of Unclassified Systems Was Routine New York Times

2016. OMG, resilc sent me this NY Post cover page, and yes, it is for real:

stop the coronation links

Bernie Sanders Wins West Virginia Democratic Primary Wall Street Journal. While CNN showed the delegate totals with all the presumptive Clinton superdelegates credited to her (not subtle message: Clinton has this locked up), the Journal isn’t on board with the coronation either:

Bernie Sanders defeated front-runner Hillary Clinton in West Virginia on Tuesday, regaining momentum and leaving some of Mrs. Clinton’s backers uneasy that her path to the Democratic presidential nomination figures to be rocky to the end.

Sanders beats Clinton in West Virginia Financial Times. Lead story at this hour. Subhead: “Outcome highlights apathy for Democratic frontrunner in the state.”

Clinton loses to Sanders in coal state of West Virginia Reuters

Bernie Sanders rally attracts 21,000 people in Sacramento Men’s Trait (martha r)

Senator Bernie Sanders Campaign Rally in Salem, Oregon C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Hillary Clinton Takes a Step to the Left on Health Care New York Times (Kevin C)

Election Officials Tossed 90,000 Affidavit Ballots From Last Month’s Primary: Gothamist (martha r)

Brand New Congress An effort to broaden the Sanders campaign into a movement. Martha r” Aiming to replace virtually all of Congress in 2018.”

Polls Shows Tight Race Between Clinton, Trump Atlantic

Clinton faces conundrum as Trump shoots from hip Financial Times

Hillary Clinton Gives U.F.O. Buffs Hope She Will Open the X-Files – (Will She Admit to Being an Alien?) New York Times (David L). Yes, this is not The Onion.

The toxic political legacy of The Apprentice Guardian (furzy)

Did the New York Times just accidentally tell the truth about the Obama administration? Salon (Jon M). As we said in 2010, Obama believes every problem can be solved with better propaganda.

Money in Politics: Finance, Regulation, and Disclosure in California’s Ballot Initiative Process. First Amendment Coalition and KPCC. Thursday May 12 at 7:00 PM PDT. You can attend (reserve your seat) in Pasadena or watch the livestream.

HB2, North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill,” Repeals LGBT Civil-Rights Laws and Bans Passing New Ones Atlantic (resilc)

Serving two masters? Most Council of State candidates say no News & Observer. More on the scandal of the North Carolina Treasurer siting on two corporate boards. You read about it first at NC. It’s getting traction due to the push by former NC state official Andrew Silton.

Budweiser renames itself ‘America’ to inspire drinkers Reuters. Furzy: “But owned by foreigners.”

US Treasury warns on online lenders’ business models Financial Times. There was no way this was going to work out well. Lending requires underwriting. And it’s never better than when you make the loan. All you have is downside from there. Credit people are wired completely differently than equity people. And that’s before you get to the predatory lending part, see Bloomberg: Is OnDeck Capital the Next Generation of Lender or Boiler Room?

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s risky new mandate Japan Times

Judge Deals Likely Fatal Blow to Staples-Office Depot Merger Wall Street Journal

Guillotine Watch

Lower Manhattan glut: ‘Buy the apartment and I’ll throw in a Lamborghini’ Financial Times

Class Warfare

Into the dystopian world of Beatrix Potter Guardian (Dr. Kevin, furzy)

Ex-Seattle cop investigated after trapping woman in his car while driving for Uber Raw Story

Gap Between CEOs + Workers Much Bigger Than You Realize Barry Ritholtz

Antidote du jour. NC now has an official returning Antidote star! Per Timotheus:

You’ve used her before. Sharon in Indiana’s cygnet couple who have lived on her lake for 20 years, each year producing a new brood. When they mature, the daddy chases them away so they find their own habitat elsewhere.

returning cygnet stars links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Kevin C. Smith

    Obama is not going to “fail” to apologize for Hiroshima.
    What did the Japanese expect when they started and conducted their war?
    In any event, much better to kill 160k of them in a single war-ending attack than have to go in there with troops and kill several million of them, one at a time, with the loss of many of our people.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You need to read Humanity, by Jonathan Glover. It’s clear that Japan was done and the need to invade was exaggerated. We could have just starved Japan out. We’d already destroyed their navy and firebombed 17 cities. There was no productive or warmaking capacity left. 1945-1947 is still called “the starving times” in Japan.

      We dropped the bombs to show the Soviets what we had. And we never would have done that to Europeans.

      And even if you buy the necessity of the show of force argument, there was no need to bomb cities:

      1. Kevin C. Smith

        If we “starved them out” that would have resulted in A LOT of Japanese casualties, maybe a lot more than were caused by the nukes. And until Japan surrendered, the killing would have gone on in a lot of places around the Pacific.

        So, net-net, the nukes were a good deal [least bad deal] for all concerned. I think the Japanese generally recognize this … we don’t hear a lot of calls from Japan for an apology [which might necessitate A LOT of reciprocal apologies from Japan].

        Sure there were some fringe issues [send a message to the Soviet Union, etc] but the main thing was to end the war quickly, minimize our casualties, and focus resources on beating Germany.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The Japanese don’t ever officially ask for anything of the US because we have kept them a military protectorate. And you have no idea what the Japanese media hints at (and the Japanese are not forward about complaining, but you can discern the coding if you understand it, which is why I have asked for Clive to opine).

          In general, the West still has almost no comprehension of Japan, largely because the Japanese prefer it that way.

          The number of Westerners who can read Japanese and are sufficiently fluent in the culture to understand it is very small and pretty much not represented in the Western media (even when Japan was hot in the 1980s and media budgets were vastly higher than now, the flow of information from Japan to the US was terrible. I knew things merely by being part of the Japanese hierarchy giving me access to some things that were common knowledge in Japan that were unknown to gaijin. A few were reported years later in the Western press as big scandals, which was almost comical. And mind you, I was clearly a privileged outsider, not a real expert).

          Plus Glover’s book, which relies on extensive archival work, tells a different story

        2. john

          The wiki has been white washed to show the start of their combat mission as ’12 days after pearl harbor’ but that is nonsense.

          Why would a CIA airwing of deniable ‘retired’ airmen (hmmm, much like blackwater or Russian ‘ex’-military in the Ukraine.) be needed, if it wasn’t a deniable military account.

          Letters of authorization from Truman and vintage Chinese papers tell the whole story.

          We killed something like 300 japanese pilots with this program, before the general education version of US history allows us to be in the war.

          The other day someone said to me that “Did you know the North Koreans think they live in the best country on Earth?” I pointed out that Americans do too.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yeah, its amazing how the Flying Tigers have been whitewashed – the US was effectively at war with Japan on China’s side for years before Pearl Harbour. The Chinese army was to a certain extent led by senior US officers prior to Pearl Harbour. From the Japanese perspective, they were already at war with the US, they were fighting US airmen and soldiers in China, everyone knew that it was just a diplomatic cover to suggest they didn’t have official approval. Not that this justifies Japanese militarism and Pearl Harbour, but I find it quite disturbing how many reputable historians will just gloss over these facts.

            1. Optimader

              The Flying Tigers were mercenaries flying for Chiang Kai-shek , getting paid $600/mnth and $500/plane shot down. There leader Claire Chennault was drummed out of the army as a malcontent for having the temerity of envisioning a strategy of using fighteraircraft to shoot down unescorted bombers. He was considered a PITA to the US army air corp brass because he was poaching pilots with the better financiak deal and adventure.

              The reason the Chinese were employing mercinaries was because Japan was invading and bombing China! It was hardly a proxy war with the US.

              Japan was the aggressor and the US Army only drafted the FT after the undeclared attack at Pearl Harbor. the notion that the FT were USAAF before the war is what is revisionist!.

              Overall this BS about US apologies is unwarranted and revisionist.

              Is the present Japanese Gov. willing to apologize for pursuing a fission weapon program, and just not being able to execute and deploy?

              Are the japanse willing to apologize for threatening to execute the ~400,000 military and civilian prisoners they held, in the event the mainland was invaded?

              Who is naiive enough to think the Japanese or the German governments would not have used a fisson weapon had they developed a workable one first???

              The germans actually were very close to having an aircraft (Horton Bros flying wing) suitable for bombing NYC with “dirty bombs” —–on the fanciful notion of leveraging a negotiated truce with the the US. Fortunatly Adolf H was enough of an idiot that the 3rd Reich collapsed before that was accomplished.

              On the notion that the US would not have used a fission bomb in Germany (due to it being too destructive of a weapon to use in Europe?) is not consistent with the utter disregard for collateral damage as delivered to Dresden and any of a number of lesser fire bombing raids in Getmany at the end of the war when Germany’s defeat was a foregon conclusion.

              IIRC ~135,000 casualties in Dresden, a non-military target and ~120,000civilians killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined
              So who wants to do the calculus on which was worse?

              War is terrible, protracted war allows time to focuse resources on constructing and deploying progessively more destructive weapons.
              Fat Man and Little Boy were just the conclusion of a logical progression of weapon development that was a consequence of who had the most resources to allocate to that effort.

              The use of those weapons surely wasn’t a moral dilemma for those that effectively dodged the bullet at the time with the consequent abrupt end without an invasion.

              My dad was on a hospitalship at the tine evacuating the worst wounded those that literally lost their skin in the game., from my most recent discussions with my dad, I don’t think any of them were wistful that the war was brought to swift end with a new weapon.

              In the end it’s the little people that always get it in the neck on all sides.

              Would it be wrong for the present Japanese government to apologize to its own people, and to those of other nations for what it brought on them, and for it’s imperial predecessor government’s role in being the catalyst for the development of nuclear weapons?
              I think those would be resonable things to apologize for.

              1. Cry Shop

                Yep, shame on the Japanese for doing what the US had done (and continues to do) under the Monroe Doctrine, which is undermine any attempt to set up a second power to rival the USA in South America.

                Sometimes I think the ineffectual war on drugs is actual part of the Monroe policy, by creating a 2nd black economy and government in Central and most of South America, the US government distroys any chance for these nations to rid themselves of corruption and to set about creating effective democratic governance.

              2. myshkin

                Many apologies are due all around for all the things you mentioned and more. The little people inevitably do get it in the neck; Hiroshima and Nagasaki, your dad, those he helped evacuate, the Korean comfort women, those vaporized in a flash.

                Nations, our leaders, the led, we all need to start apologizing profusely for much of our activities here on earth, certainly for using weapons of mass destruction on a defeated nation and largely civilian targets.

            2. Skippy


              You have to go all the way back to the expeditionary forces land grabs just off Japans door step, Philippians et al, the Wests business interests in China [see bond holders] and don’t forget the Hull note and The McCollum Memo. Not to mention the Jesuits and Priest’s that were sent packing [after establishing a toe hold in the nation for fun and profit] for a few 100 years.

              Disheveled Marsupial…. What would some of the Central – South American country’s do if they had the same military capacity that Japan had at pivotal points in their history…. eh….

            3. Procopius

              “gloss over these facts”? Funny, I’ve known about this since I was a kid. I thought everyone knew that Roosevelt was doing lots of things that amounted to acts of war. US destroyers were escorting British convoys most of the way across the Atlantic and Lend-Lease was probably contrary to the Neutrality Act. I seem to recall we sank at least one German submarine — by accident, I guess. Maybe it’s just that you young kids don’t know any history. Heck, the Flying Tigers were romantic heroes when I was a kid. Didn’t you ever hear of the comic strip, Terry and the Pirates? Where did you think that took place? Sorry for being so irritable, but it’s late here and I’m tired. Oh, and the CIA was not the agency controlling the Flying Tigers. They didn’t even exist for another ten years.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Nagasaki, because, I believe, bad weather over the top choice, Okura.

            Why a second bomb?

            Because it was the other of two possible designs at the time for a nuclear bomb.

            Scientists, if nothing, have always been thorough.

            And without them, there would not have been any nuclear bombs in the first place.

            1. Dave

              One of the great contributions of Albert Einstein to humanity.
              Why do they keep playing up how great he was?

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Humanity has not always been humane, nor has humanity done much good for Nature.

              2. lightningclap

                Many of the physicists involved in developing the bomb came out against its use. Einstein was a humanitarian, unlike the psychopaths who are revered today.

                1. Mark P.

                  ‘Many of the physicists involved in developing the bomb came out against its use.’

                  Not only is the actual history far more complicated than anybody who’s not studied it wants to know about, but even close study doesn’t put you in the minds of people who’d lived through decades of watching the world become a charnel house during WW1, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and WW2.

                  Oppenheimer, for instance, was relatively fine with Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time and was far from the saint that popular history has retrospectively made him into after Curtis Lemay, Teller, and others — including the likes of John Wheeler and Freeman Dyson — went after him to strip him of his security clearance in the 50s.

                  Edward Teller, conversely, opposed dropping the fission bombs on Japanese populations (and was for demonstration drops offshore). Yet later he became primarily responsible for development of the ‘super’ — the fusion bomb — during the 1950s.

                  Einstein had nothing to do with nuclear weapons’ development, beyond writing a letter to Roosevelt at the behest of Leo Szilard who worked out the physics of such weapons in the early 1930s. And Szilard got the idea from H.G. Wells who proposed the possibility in 1912.

                  Moreover, the Japanese had their own nuclear weapons program. I could go on.

                  1. Optimader

                    All correct. Lets do a little intellectual root cause analysis.
                    What are the Imperial Japanese Empires and the 3rd Reichs culpability for creating the circumstances that these weapons were created?

                    I await those guys to reanimate from dust to “apologize”. Anything less is BS

              3. ambrit

                Einstein had to be persuaded to write the letter to Roosevelt. When it was framed to him as either America getting the bomb first or Germany, the choice was obvious.
                After the war was over, a lot of the scientists who worked on the bomb shifted to other scientific pursuits.
                Oppenheimer was right when he said; “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

            2. Seas of Promethium

              It was cloudy over Nagasaki too that day, they missed the target site–and hit a Christian ghetto.


              (Oops then anyway, nowadays wiping out Christians in those sorts of places isn’t such a biggie anymore, ’cause we understand that only real ‘murricans can really be Christian after all.)

            3. Mark P.

              ‘Why a second bomb?’

              Testing the implosion design was a factor. But the official reasoning was that the Japanese had to be given proof that this wasn’t a one-off superweapon and more were in the pipeline if the Japanese didn’t surrender

              1. Optimader

                Oooooh BS
                The design could have been more convienintly tested and instrumented if it was used to fuse sand somewhere in Navada. It was war, and i presume they wanted to dispense with any notion that there was only one such weapon of that capability ( there were only two)
                Apparently the strategy worked?

                1. Synapsid


                  I mention below, to Clive, that the plutonium bomb (the one dropped at Nagasaki) had already been tested, in New Mexico. That was on a tower, not dropped from a plane.

                  The Hiroshima, uranium, bomb had not been tested, I’m guessing because they knew it would work.

                  1. Optimader

                    As in sure you know, the bomb dropped on hiroshima was a crude but simple and inherently dangerous pragmatic design ( that incidentally barely worked iirc somthibg like only 2% yield.)

                    The Fat Boy test mule was an implosion bomb design that we’ve all seen pictures of on the tower at Trinity Site.
                    As you say, this more complicated design was first tested but not as an airdropped militarized version with barometric and other redundant fuzing kit.
                    The notion that it was dropped on Nagasaki merely as a “test” is nonsensical. If it needed futher testing (airdropped) they presumably would have done that in Nevada

            4. jim a

              Well many of the scientists advised disassembling little boy because of it’s inefficient design. Several fat man type bombs could be made from the uranium. Instead the generals decided that it was more important to pour the bombs on quickly, hoping that the shock would end the war more quickly.

          2. nowhere

            What better way to test your field deliverable implosion bomb design and get valuable effects data at the same time?

        3. RabidGandhi

          The Japanese had been trying to surrender before the atomic bombs were dropped. Between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings they offered to surrender but keep the Emperor. The US refused, dropped the second bomb, and then ended up accepting their surrender and letting them keep their Emperor anyway.

          The US priority was not to end the war quickly. It was to test and demonstrate its nuclear power in anticipation of the Cold War.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Actually, we didn’t let “them keep their Emperor anyway.” He is no longer considered a god by the Japanese, the Shinto religion with the Emperor as a god is for most purposes dead, and he is a mere figurehead instead of the leader of an imperial dynasty.

            There were many reasons we dropped the bombs on Japan. Remember that they refused to surrender after the first bomb was dropped because some of them didn’t believe it was really an atom bomb and others thought we might only have one. So the second one, at the very least, is on them.

            Its nice how we all get to sit hear 70 years after the fact and judge a decision that was made at a desperate time. I’m sure sending a message to the Soviets was important at the time, but the idea that we would just leave Japan alone to rebuild after all the monstrous acts they committed in China and across the Pacific Rim and not administer a decisive defeat is to completely ignore the likely result that would have entailed. Did we really want another war with Japan in 10 years? 20?

            And the idea that we wouldn’t have nuked Germany if they hadn’t surrendered before our bombs were complete is preposterous. It wasn’t racism. It was how do we win this war decisively without killing more American soldiers. There are all sorts of claims that we goaded the Japanese into war, but they built up a massive military machine for a reason, they had expansionist policies and plans for centuries, and are seriously hated by all of their neighbors for a reason. We neutered them by the way we defeated them in WWII. And yet now, 70 years later, they are rewriting their history on comfort women and other atrocities they committed and are just beginning to stir towards becoming a war power again.

            1. RabidGandhi

              This is utter historical revisionism and I suspect you know this. Yves cited Glover above. To that I would add Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy, which is the only study I know that takes into account US, Japanese and Soviet sources. Hasegawa thoroughly disproves the lie that the Japanese surrendered because of the bombs; they surrendered when the Soviets invaded, because for months the Japanese High Command was operating under the hope of an alliance with the USSR.

              Your claim that the US dropped 2 atomic bombs in order to prevent Japan from rebuilding is 180° from the facts. The Japanese had offered full surrender with the sole proviso of keeping the Emperor in place. They did not specify whether he needed to be a god or which powers he should keep– they just wanted to ensure that the imperial family wouldn’t be prosecuted as war criminals.

              Lastly your comment that “the idea that we would just leave Japan alone to rebuild after all the monstrous acts they committed in China and across the Pacific Rim” is completely undone by the US’s own subsequent monstrous acts across the Pacific Rim. There were many reasons for the US using force to prevent the expansion of the murderous Japanese Empire, but an alleged defence of the civilian population has to be the most laughable.

            2. James Levy

              The FACT is japan was ready to throw in the towel in April, before 49,000 Americans were killed and wounded in the Okinawa campaign. What the whole thing was over was their accepting UNCONDITIONAL surrender, which was virtually unprecedented in an international conflict up to that time. \

              It was about “optics”, not surrender. The Americans were prepared to kill and maim tens of thousands of their own people and Japanese CIVILIANS in order to humiliate the Japanese by forcing unconditional surrender. The facts are incontrovertible.

              1. Optimader

                The Greatest Hoax In American History: Japan’s Alleged Willingness to Surrender During the Final Months of World War II

                …In particular, Sherwin and Bird berated me for failing to refer to Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. “Hasegawa’s research into Soviet and Japanese archives,” they wrote, “is replete with massive new and important ‘wisps’ of evidence about the causes of Japan’s surrender. It seems telling to us that his work is ignored.” What Sherwin and Bird apparently did not know, or hoped their readers did not know, was that although Hasegawa agreed with revisionists on a number of issues he explicitly rejected the early surrender thesis. Indeed, Hasegawa in no uncertain terms wrote that “Without the twin shocks of the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war, the Japanese never would have surrendered in August.” So much for the “massive new and important ‘wisps’ of evidence.”…

                Links that go to original source material describing Japanses surrender overtures would be nice

            3. Plenue

              The Emperor formally renounced his divine nature, but didn’t renounce descent from Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. A convenient loophole that makes it clear the renouncing of divinity was just words, a political conceit. When Akihito was coronated in 1989 the ceremony was straight out of the middle-ages, with Shinto priests galore. To this day the Japanese still mark time in both the Gregorian calendar and an Imperial era based on the reign of the current Emperor (we’re currently in Heisei 28).

              We aren’t rethinking anything 70 years after the fact. Much of the writing about the reality of the dropping of the bombs is about attempting to hammer home the point that it was controversial at the time and that there was far from a consensus. There’s a long list of bigwigs who didn’t agree with the use of nukes: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz, Halsey to name a few. Freaking John Foster Dulles didn’t want us to nuke Japan! From Truman’s very first speech about the bombing of Hiroshima there has been a propaganda campaign attempting to justify the use of the A-bomb and sweeping dissent under the rug.

              The famous 1 million US casualties figure was a. only one of several estimates, b. was the estimate for one plan, ie fighting for every square inch of the home islands. There were other plans focused on just seizing strategic locations which had much lower casualty estimates. On top of that there were plenty of people who saw no reason to invade the home islands in the first place. And as others have already noted the Japanese had been attempting to surrender long before we even invaded Okinawa. There’s this commonly held idea that the Japanese were prepared to fight to the very end; nightmare visions of a 100 million civilians armed with farming tools and homemade bombs banzai charging American troops. Complete nonsense. The Japanese knew well before Spring 1945 that they had lost, the debate between the Japanese Peace party and the War party was over whether to surrender totally now or attempt to wage a massive, bloody ‘decisive battle’ that would pressure the Americans into accepting a conditional surrender. They had already repeatedly attempted to surrender on the condition that they could keep their Emperor, we refused those overtures. I’ll say it again: the Japanese had already offered to surrender, WE REFUSED.

              In the event it’s not at all clear the nukes are even what forced them to accept unconditional surrender. We’d already demonstrated the ability to burn down any city in Japan with complete impunity via conventional mass firebombing raids (the destruction of Tokyo seems to loom larger in the Japanese historical memory and public psyche than the atomic bombings). So what if we had a super weapon that could destroy a city with a single bomber? It amounted to the same thing from the Japanese point of view; they were equally powerless to stop either form of bombing. The entry of the Soviets into the war (also dashing any hopes of a Moscow brokered peace treaty) and their steamrolling of the Manchurian army raised the horrific (to the Japanese) vision of Soviet control of at least Hokkaido and thus a say in post-war Japanese affairs. And that’s something the Japanese leadership absolutely didn’t want.

              Truman was a monster who should never have been president (the nukes are just two of his many sins). I’m pretty confident FDR would never had authorized the dropping of the first bomb, let alone two of them.

              1. Optimader

                We’d already demonstrated the ability to burn down any city in Japan with complete impunity via conventional mass firebombing raids (the destruction of Tokyo seems to ….

                And how did that work out relative to catalysing a surrender?
                You present conjecture as fact

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  Did you bother to read what he wrote? The Japanese were willing to surrender BEFORE Okinawa! This was all about getting an unconditional surrender. And the US had firebombed not just Tokyo but 16 other significant cities at that point. The Japanese used wood for their homes. They went up like torches.

                  1. Optimader

                    Good, you should be able to easily provide a source link to the terms of surrender the japanese gov was ascenting to before April 1 1945, then we can discuss its merits.

                    Are you seriously suggesting i dont have a pretty good idea of the building construction in Japan at the tine, or the details of Curtis Lemay’s firebombing campaign?
                    If so, why?

                    1. Yves Smith Post author

                      Because you in all seriousness asserted that we needed to use nukes when the fact that overnight firebombings produced similar levels of destruction to A-bombs. Your comments were consistent with not understanding the extent and severity of damage done by the firebombing, so my remarks were not unreassonable in light of that.

                      And more important, Japan was already prostrated.

                      It was James Levy above, who is a military historian, and Pleune and others who made these points:

                      1. Most of the military leaders on the US side thought the use of nukes was unnecessary and would represent a blot on US history. They’ve provided a quote from Eisenhower himself, for instance.

                      2. Japan knew they were done. The sticking point was over the US demand for an unconditional surrender, something that had never been demanded of a major power.

                      If you’ve read the history of diplomatic negotiations, terms are rarely committed to writing before a final stage. The issues are hashed out at a level of concept/principles first.

                      You could have found this just as easily as I did:

                      Months before the end of the war, Japan’s leaders recognized that defeat was inevitable. In April 1945 a new government headed by Kantaro Suzuki took office with the mission of ending the war. When Germany capitulated in early May, the Japanese understood that the British and Americans would now direct the full fury of their awesome military power exclusively against them.

                      American officials, having long since broken Japan’s secret codes, knew from intercepted messages that the country’s leaders were seeking to end the war on terms as favorable as possible. Details of these efforts were known from decoded secret communications between the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo and Japanese diplomats abroad.

                      In his 1965 study, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (pp. 107, 108), historian Gar Alperovitz writes:

                      Although Japanese peace feelers had been sent out as early as September 1944 (and [China’s] Chiang Kai-shek had been approached regarding surrender possibilities in December 1944), the real effort to end the war began in the spring of 1945. This effort stressed the role of the Soviet Union …

                      In mid-April [1945] the [US] Joint Intelligence Committee reported that Japanese leaders were looking for a way to modify the surrender terms to end the war. The State Department was convinced the Emperor was actively seeking a way to stop the fighting.


                      “Looking for a way to modify surrender terms” means negotiations were underway and pretty advanced. And any report to the Joint Intelligence Committee would be in arrears of events.

                    2. optimader


                      1.) First, if you were to review any of my posts you will not find me claiming Allied forced “had to/needed to” take the course of action it chose, there are infinite alternative scenarios.
                      OTOH, I absolutely do not condemn the decisions made 70 years ago, while having the discipline to consider the information available to them at the time.

                      2.) Was Curtis LeMays continued firebombing of Japan to ash a reasonable status quo course of action? It certainly had proved ineffective to the objective of forcing a military capitulation and surrender in Japan (similarly the carpet bombing of Germany)

                      An interesting ( to me) and unintuitive metric for measuring bombing efficacy to end military production:


                      3.) Was “starving them out” a more reasonable(moral?) solution?
                      One can only speculate on the carnage that would have unleashed. Was it reasonable to accept the threatened murder of 200,000 POWs held in Japan, as well untold collateral civilian deaths??
                      I think no.

                      At best, both those solutions would have required a longer time domain, during which bad things invariably would have happened.
                      Personally, I am of the opinion 70 years on those two alternatives would have been more far more devastating than the two bombings that occurred.

                      You and others suggest (correct me if I am stating it inaccurately) a consensus to surrender existed in the Japanese government as early as the invasion of Okinawa, and as late as 8August1945. That simply is not corroborated by historical record.

                      Further, the notion the Japanese Imperial government and military leaders had consensus and were prepared to surrender is not an accurate assessment –based on what I’ve read, and the anecdotal reflections from vets that were actually there. If it is the revisionist vernacular parsing of “seeking peace” that is in play, “seeking peace is NOT equivalent to a consensus acceptance of unconditional surrender.

                      In reality Premier Suzuki dismissed the Potsdam terms of surrender, as reported in the Tokyo press with the dismissive use of the the term Mokusatsu. on July28 1945. and with no change of position the Hiroshima bob was dropped 6August 1945

                      From my previously supplied link:

                      Mokusatsu was employed in the morning edition of the Asahi Shinbun during World War II on July 28, 1945, to designate the attitude assumed by the government to the Potsdam Declaration. This newspaper and others had been quick to announce that the Declaration had been rejected by Japan, since the ultimatum (in addition to being transmitted to the Japanese government diplomatically via Swiss intermediaries) was transmitted via radio and airdropped leaflets to the Japanese public. It is questionable whether the Japanese press were acting on reliable government sources when they first announced the Declaration’s rejection. Later that day in a press conference, the word was again used by the Premier Kantarō Suzuki to dismiss the Potsdam Declarations as a mere rehash of earlier rejected Allied proposals, and therefore, being of no value, would be killed off by silent contempt (mokusatsu). According to John Toland, Suzuki’s choice of the term was dictated more by the need to appease the military…

                      The IJ military refused unconditional surrender on principle and were making plans for an invasion that would force (in their minds) a negotiated armistice. The Japanese war cabinet rejected the unconditional surrender terms set forth by vote.

                      The fact that allied intelligence had broken the Japanese code would I presume lend some credence to Allied strategists assessment that the Imperial IJ Military was not going to go quietly into the night.

                      IJ military was proposing that they could muster 10,000 kamikaze pilots and aircraft –amongst other guerilla tactic methods utilizing “Civilian Defense Forces”. This information probably was not well received by anyone reading decoded transmissions.

                      Insane? Sure.

                      Degree to which they could have executed their plans? Who knows, surely none of us.

                      After the Hiroshima bombing there was no Japanese cabinet consensus to surrender.

                      Even after the 9August bombing of Nagasaki there was no consensus.
                      It took the threat of bombing Tokyo and a failed Palace coup to force the Japanese Cabinet’s unanimous vote for surrender on 14August 1945.

                      So I accept yours and others OPINION that those two bombing were not necessary.

                      It remains my opinion that they brought a swift end to what could have been a more extended bloody and ultimately futile exercise on the part of the Japanese military.

                      Further, I am surprised some of the wide ranging unsupported claims condemnations of decisions, colored with a modern perspective, of events taken some 70 years ago and lacking historical perspective and discipline.

                      A well footnoted sidebar link

            4. Cry Shop


              If you dig around, you’ll see that Akahito performed the exact same enthronement ritual 20 years before this visit. The enthronement, unlike the bland photos of this visit, is not for profane eyes, and during it Akahito “copulated” on a special couch/platform with his Imperial Ancestress, sun-goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami. He’s very much a god figure. What is interesting about the photos of this visit, is it is something Hirohito avoided, photos visiting Ise, and shows that Shinto and Japanese Nationalism are still working hand in hand.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            The Japanese had already asked the Soviets (before the communists also declared war – a few days before the end of war) to help with negotiating with the Allies. Stalin passed along the information at the Potsdam conference.

              1. Optimader

                From you link
                …. Japan publicly rejected the Potsdam Declaration, and on July 25, 1945, President Harry S. Truman gave the order to commence atomic attacks on Japan as soon as possible.

                Indeed , there was no consensus in the imperial leadership for Japan to surrender before the Hiroshima bombing, it occured after tha Nagasaki bombing
                You make my point, thank you.

                As well,
                Mokusatsu is an ordinary Japanese word used for everyday conversation. However, the word is known in the Western world when it is used in conjunction with the Potsdam Declaration.

                The government of Japan used the term as a response to Allied demands in the Potsdam Declaration for unconditional surrender in World War II, which influenced President Harry S. Truman’s decision to order the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[6]

                1. Cry Shop

                  It’s a government link, you have to read it. That’s why I picked this particular link, to see if you had it in you。 Sad.


                  1. optimader

                    I quote directly from the link!
                    What part don’t you understand about the Japanese Cabinet and Military rejecting the surrender terms, and what part beyond that is relevant to your point?

          3. jim a

            Well it wasn’t just keeping the emperor. They also wanted no occupation and any war crimes trials to be conducted by Japanese courts. These were non-starters.

        4. frosty zoom

          the nukes were a good deal [least bad deal] for all concerned. ~ kevin c. smith

          so, as far as my conscience and my mission were concerned, there was no problem. ~ pol pot

          1. VietnamVet

            Due to WWI, the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise of Fascism during the Great Depression; American leaders were well aware that the Greatest Generation could revolt. One reason for using the Atomic Bomb was to avoid shipping combat experienced troops from Europe to Asia for the invasion of Honshu. They weren’t sure they would transit peacefully across the USA to the West Coast ports. This is also the reason for their generous GI Bill. Conscripts did mutiny in Vietnam but it didn’t matter anymore in the nuclear age. In the 1980’s the working class was tossed and their jobs offshored. The military privatized and the army staffed with volunteers.

      2. Sam Adams

        Showing the Soviets we had the bomb, stopping thier assimilation of Europe and ending the Asian war sooner are not mutually exclusive. The shogunate was not done, as Abe’s upbringing shows.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Go study the history of the immediate post war period in Japan. We left pretty much all of the old political interests in place.

          My dim recollection (and this is based on readings I did nearly 30 years ago, so those of you with a better handle on this feel free to correct me) is that post war elections led to a bunch of Socialists taking office. The US went nuts. I don’t recall the details of how we orchestrated it, but the old leadership class (meaning lots of reactionaries with brand names) were allowed to assume power.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yves, my understanding of the period was that the initial US administration was actually quite liberal and imaginative in Japan – they were quite supportive of more progressive elements in Japan, at least initially. It was later – as the US became obsessed with the Cold War, that they lost interest and essentially just let the more reactionary elements take over – it was seen as something of a ‘safe option’. In reality, the Japanese leadership class never saw themselves as having lost a war, they saw it as having lost a battle – the Yoshida Doctrine (essentially, ‘lets forget about the military, lets focus on becoming an economic giant’) was the next stage. While the US may have had some malign influence, I think the nastily reactionary governments Japan has been left with for decades is very much a domestic invention.

            1. John

              Lots of fantastic comments as always. I’m undecided on the A-bomb issue, as part of me thinks that “starving them out” would have resulted in more destruction and loss of life. I also wonder if it would have only reinforced existing hierarchies. But I do think that bombing a remote military installation first would have been the better option–although maybe it would have been impossible to see the real effects of an A-bomb without bombing a city and the scare factor wouldn’t have been big enough. I’ll leave it to the historians to answer.

              One thing that’s always interested me about Japan and Korea is that the US allowed them to be extremely protectionist because we were petrified of failed economies leading to socialist revolts. It was vital that Japan and Korea become successful in order to provide positive examples of capitalist development to discourage other countries from following the routes of North Korea, China, and eventually Vietnam. We knew at the time that “free trade” will never bring prosperity to a developing country. Of course we never would have allowed such leeway in Latin America, since it’s our backyard, and we think everything there is ours.

              Once the Cold War ended, it became a lot easier to promote neoliberalism. Because at that point, there was no alternative. Before the Soviet Union fell, we always had to worry about people becoming fed up with capitalism and revolting. It was important that these economies actually do well–if they didn’t, the people would get restless. But once the USSR collapsed and socialism was no longer believed to be a possibility, it didn’t matter if any of these countries actually saw their economies grow or not. We could pressure them into following the way of the Washington Consensus and if things didn’t go well, what were they going to do? Of course the 90’s were disastrous in many places, and that decade gave way to the ‘pink tide’ of the 00’s in Latin America–but the counter-revolution has already begun. The elite in most developing countries is just too strong.

              1. Plenue

                They didn’t need to be ‘starved out’, that’s a major issue. They wanted to surrender, and had already tried repeatedly. The entire framing of ‘we killed a lot of people quickly to save a lot more in the long run’ is bogus from the start.

                1. Mark P.

                  You’re vastly over-simplifying. Factions among the Japanese wanted to surrender. Elements among the Japanese high command, conversely, remained prepared to fight to the last Japanese woman and child.

                  1. Plenue

                    No, they weren’t.

                    The objective of the ‘War Party’ wasn’t to fight to the end of the Japanese people, it was to fight a kessen (decisive/final battle) and cause such casualties that the Americans would agree to certain terms and the Japanese would surrender. They’d already attempted this with Okinawa. The Japanese had been attempting to surrender via Moscow mediation for months. Even Okinawa didn’t need to happen had the Americans been willing to make a few concessions (concessions MacArthur mostly allowed in the end anyway). The Americans had already won and both sides knew it and were willing to accept it. The US simply didn’t feel Japanese was groveling enough for its liking.

                  1. Plenue



                    “American cryptographers had broken most of Japan’s codes, including the Purple code used by the Japanese Foreign Office to encode high-level diplomatic correspondence. As a result, messages between Tokyo and Japan’s embassies were provided to Allied policy-makers nearly as quickly as to the intended recipients.[51]”

                    David Irving, the Holocaust denier, has some more. A dubious source, to be sure, but his archival work is often praised, even among people who dislike him.


              2. Left in Wisconsin

                One thing that’s always interested me about Japan and Korea is that the US allowed them to be extremely protectionist because we were petrified of failed economies leading to socialist revolts.

                In fact, in short order after WW2, the reconstructed Japanese labor unions (in those days, we encouraged “free” labor unionism in Germany and Japan because it was seen as a bulwark against Soviet-style state socialism) were taken over by socialists. With US help, the socialist unions were supplanted by complaint company unions, which are the unions that exist today (though not as compliant as they once were).

              3. Optimader

                starving them out” = Animal Farm
                The existentail question..starving who out of what?
                I can only imagine the revisionist history 70 years later describing the outcome of Allies allowing the Imperial Military autonomy deciding who gets to eat and who doesnt.
                Im guessing they would have given all the food to prisoners and civilians!… Oh wait..

            2. Plenue

              American Shogun by Robert Harvey says that (in the exact opposite approach to that later taken in Iraq) the bulk of the Japanese bureaucracy was kept intact. So MacArthur came in with lots of sweeping reforms but they were diluted and mitigated at every opportunity by the Japanese infrastructure. This, combined with the American desire to just get beyond WW2 and transform Japan into a friendly, loyal unsinkable aircraft carrier (a grand total of seven people were executed by the United States at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials) meant that there was substantial continuity between the wartime and post-war Japanese leadership and bureaucracy. Plenty of shady and some downright scummy people would later re-enter Japanese politics, often with great success.

              This also has a lot to do with Japans problematic view of their own history. “There was a ‘Pacific War’ with America, it was fought over…something, Japan lost, but we’re all friends now” seems to be a very common attitude among the Japanese. I think a big reason victim countries like Korea and China have so much trouble with the Japanese regarding WW2 atrocities is simply because the Japanese public has a very limited understanding that there even were atrocities, let along a huge number of them, many incredibly horrific. The Japanese can make cartoons where the Yamato battleship, a significant symbol of Japanese imperialism, is resurrected as a spaceship whose all-Japanese crew saves the entire human race and think this is completely acceptable. You don’t see the Germans resurrecting and aggrandizing the Bismarck.

              1. Mark P.

                ‘a big reasons victim countries like Korea and China have so much trouble with the Japanese regarding WW2 atrocities is simply because the Japanese public has a very limited understanding that there even were atrocities, let along a huge number of them, many incredibly horrific.’


                In the Japanese bioweapons program, as many as 250,000 died just during the human experimentation conducted by Unit 731 at the camp in Pingfang alone.

                That doesn’t include victims from other medical experimentation sites, like unit 100, nor stunts like bisecting live, conscious human subjects vertically.

                In the interests of fairness, I should also note that the researchers at Unit 731 were given immunity by the U.S. in exchange for the data they’d gathered during their experiments. There are no good guys in this story.

              2. Optimader

                Yes to all the above
                MacArthur may have been an utter dick personslly, but he understood the civilian state infrastructure had to be reformed in an imperfect manner rather than disbanded:arrested with ensueing chaos.

                Many imperfect but neccesary calls had to be made snd in a very short period of time.
                Unfortunatly a MacArthur post WWII historian should have been in the upper echelons of the Iraq occupation team. Things may have worked out much less tragically.

          2. Cry Shop

            Japan had a brief spring of liberalism during the great depression as well, but the Japanese military assassinated Prime Minister HARA Takashi and again 10 years later Prime Minster INUSAKI Tsuyoshi along with many senior members of the Rikken Seiyūkai. Eventually in the later case all of the militarist were set free after the public had been frighten and manipulated into supporting the new martial government.

            Socialist leader ASANUMA Inejiro was assassinated in 1960 when he threatened the LDP’s hold on power, and other than the assassins suicide, no one was brought to justice. Many Japanese support the peace constitution, but not because they believe in peace, but rather because they have lost faith in war, and that is a very different beast. From every aspect, even in codified youth rebellion which well preceded the Hipster codex in the USA, the Japanese are much more easily pushed into line than any other people I’ve had the pleasure to live among. They do not possess a democratic spirit, as testified by they saying “The nail that stands up must be hammered down”. If any truly democratic leader was to pull a Bernie, he/she would be either stymied by Japan’s extremely powerful professional bureaucracy, or killed.

            Fukushima Di-ichi is a testimony to Japan’s lack of democratic spirit, everyone knew many things were wrong, but they all pulled together to cover it up.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              There is a saying, you achieve power with Legalist means, but govern with Confucians.

              That means, once the struggle is over, everyone must know his/her place in the society. And all will be harmonious.

              It’s like that in post-war Japan, and in post-revolutionary China (Down with the corrupt Nationalist…until it’s time for the Red Princelings – then, everyone must work together to improve the Middle Kingdom).

        2. PlutoniumKun

          The US policy was (and its disputed as to whether this was deliberate or just based on a misconception of Japanese society) to wipe out the old aristocracy. They were the real losers of the war. The Samurai class (as in, Abe, etc) were essentially in charge by the 1930’s, and continued (and still continue) to be in charge. In other words, the US took out the symbolic leaders, but left the real power structures in place. A number of writers ascribe a lot of the problems in Japan to this day to the imbalance this caused – the aristocracy was in many ways something of a cultural/political counterbalance to the more aggressive Samurai class.

          I must admit to a fascination with the immediate post war period in Japan – almost anything could have happened. But it was by the 1950’s that essentially the bureaucracy (essentially the samurai) firmly took a grip on society. You can trace the changes just by watching Kurosawa films of the period – a real sense of optimism in the immediate post war period, a feeling that there was an opportunity to make deep changes in the society – but by around 1955 the old order had firmly taken control, mostly because the US had stopped paying attention and was only interested in Japan as an ally in Korea and against China and the Soviets.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The focus on China and the Soviets can be seen in movies like the 1961 films, Pigs and Battleships.

          2. Dave

            Watch the amazing nine minutes montage of police detective Toshiro Mifune, disguised as a homeless veteran, wandering through the Tokyo Underworld. (Stray Dog).

            It was shot on the street and is IMHO, the best nine minutes of cinema ever shot.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              One of my all time favourite films (which includes plenty of other Kurosawa movies).

      3. PlutoniumKun

        There wasn’t even a need to starve Japan out. Most of the engineers and scientists involved in the Manhattan Project assumed the first bombs would be dropped either in Tokyo Bay as a demonstrator, or on a remote island military base. It was assumed it would only be used on civilians as a last resort if the military government didn’t get the message.

        I can’t recall the name of the book at the moment, but a few years I read an interesting take on the decision making process. To summarise, the author (a military historian) came to the conclusion that there was actually no real strategy behind the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He blamed the secrecy around the Manhattan Project for preventing any real discussion on the strategic uses of nuclear weapons. In other words, it was delivered to the USAF who just treated it as a more efficient way of destroying cities than firebombing. It was only in the immediate aftermath of the bombing that it occurred to the military establishment that nuclear weapons were strategic game changers.

        Incidentally, even the firebombing proved to be a waste of resources and life. Detailed studies immediately after the war showed that the real damage was caused by the aptly named ‘operation starvation’, the aerial mining of inland Japanese waters. Japan had plenty of home grown food – what it lacked was a road and rail infrastructure to transport it to where it was needed. Destroying its inland merchant shipping capacity caused the collapse and starvation which had reduced Japan to penury by 1945.

        1. Steve H.

          Interesting point in the last paragraph. The LDS shtf manual has four examples in it’s appendix (including New Orleans v Katrina). Orlov’s experiences in Russia after the wall-fall also reinforce the message, that the whole world doesn’t have to fall for a situation to get desperate locally. Two weeks without water is enough to make a month a lifetime, and food forty miles away is no better than the other side of the globe at such times.

          1. polecat

            And yet, how many Americans groak just vulnerable they are to sudden supply disruptions…considering that, at present, most people are ignorant and/or capable of at least moderate self-sufficiency!!

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Your military historian reaches conclusions similar to Glover. It appears no one made the decision to bomb Japan, everyone acted as if someone else had made the decision and they deferred to it. And this wasn’t buck-passing, it seems to have been a weird form of groupthink across organizations.

      4. Richard

        I’m sorry, Yves, that is absolute nonsense. Even if you go along with the hoary old excuse that the Japanese “wanted” to surrender, several days passed between Hiroshima and Nagasaki during which the Japanese STILL refused to surrender.

        Surely you are not one to go along with the idea that Japanese “losing face” was more important to protect than the potential loss of American (and other) lives, are you?

        If Japan had been serious about surrendering, no atomic bombs would ever have been dropped. Look me in the eye and dispute that statement. No BS. No ifs ands or buts. Just a plain and simple white flag would have done the trick. It failed to materialise.

        God knows, I am no supporter of America’s vile warmongering since but I cannot in good conscience criticise the dropping of those two bombs at that time.

        1. voteforno6

          Talks were already ongoing when the bombs were dropped. The terms proposed before Hiroshima were pretty much the ones that were eventually adopted. The problem for Japan was that its command and control had been pretty much shattered by that point, so its leadership wasn’t able to respond as quickly as the U.S. would have preferred.

        2. myshkin

          I’m glad you’re not a “supporter of America’s vile warmongering,” but you don’t know what you’re talking about regarding the two A bombs dropped on Japan.
          Even McCarthur saw no military justification for it. He knew the Japanese were ready to surrender and thought the Potsdam unconditional surrender demand foolish. He believed retaining the Emperor, the sticking point, was critical for the US post war occupation and ultimately after the bombing, he was retained.

          Eisenhower, from his memoir, “Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

          During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. “

          1. Cry Shop

            It was Russia’s entry into the War that decided Hirohito to push his war cabinet to sue for peace, and they actually won the gambit, we backed off of unconditional surrender because of the same entry by Russia.

            These bombs were dropped a long way from Tokyo, which had already suffered firebombings that killed more people than the Atomic Bombs. Radiation sickness, contamination, and all the other problems were a long time away from being known issues. To Tokyo, those bombs at that time seemed little more of a threat than the existing firebomb campaigns.

            Actually the way the bombs helped in the war was they brought in the USSR. During WWII the USSR was able to ship food and arms through the Pacific unmolested by the Japanese, and even though Nazi Germany was defeated, Stalin was still dependent on the USA to feed his people, and thus was reluctant to start a war with Japan until he had built up stocks of foods, particularly as Stalin was worried the Allies might even continue to make war on the USSR. So he was pumping the situation for every penny it was worth. However, thanks to Kaus Fuch, Stalin had a better idea of what our nuclear program could do than the poor Japanese. Once the bomb was dropped, he calculated the Japanese would rapidly capitulate, so he better throw in with the Allies and have a legitimate excuse to occupy as much of North China and North Japan as could be got as a buffer against CKS and the Allies in the East as well as Eastern Europe in the West.

            Japan sued for peace because they hoped to limit the USSR from landing on the Japanese mainland. They rightfully estimated getting Russia out of Japan would be impossible (as Sakhalin shows) and that the Japanese communist would have very little empathy or sympathy for the imperial family, the nobles, Mitsubishi family, etc.

            More importantly, the Allies agreed to allow the Emperor to stay as a figurehead of the government, a step back on terms of surrender, which clearly indicated that the Western Allies would also not tolerate a communist government in Japan, just as they didn’t in Greece or Italy.

            The bombs were used because they existed, and the in particular the 2nd one was used very quickly because they were afraid the Japanese would surrender before it could be used.

            Sorry this was suppose to go as a reply to Richard.

            1. Jess

              Excellent reply. The key point about Russia entering the war against Japan only after the first bomb is very important. A couple of other points I’d add:

              a) Pretty much everyone saying that the Japanese would have surrendered is, as far as I know, pretty much, you know, not Japanese.

              b) Even when the Emperor decided to surrender, his palace guards had to fight off a coup attempt aimed at preventing the surrender message being broadcast to the world. So the idea that the entire Japanese government was committed to surrender is pretty specious.

              c) It was 50 years after the war, when certain files were declassified, that the public able to find out just exactly how much defense capability the Japs had hidden to use against a land invasion. The History Channel (back when it really did history and wasn’t just a platform for pawn shops, pickers, and gator hunters) did a nice multi-part series about Japan’s plans for defense of the home islands. Among the things we found were 700 kamikaze airplanes with fuel and munitions hidden in tunnels and caves complete with railroad launching systems (conceptually similar to our aircraft carrier catapult systems). If these planes had launched against our invasion forces the average warning time would have been ninety seconds. (Versus 10-30 minutes for the planes launched against the Okinawa invasion fleet.)

              Bottom line: If Japan held out, forced an invasion, and then the American public found out that we had super-weapons that could have saved American lives, Truman would have been impeached, convicted, tried for treason, and hung.

              1. Cry Shop

                or having spent two bombs and then having no more (for a year or so), Truman might have hardened the Japanese resolve, just as the threats to depopulate German motivated many Germans, at first ready to throw in the towel to fight all that much harder, that an enemy this cruel would have no mercy. All of this behavior feed into the propaganda that Americans were inhuman swine. The average Japanese had no idea what happened in China, they for the most part believed they were a civilizing force against Western Empire.

                The Japanese had fought the Soviets and been badly beaten, they held the Russians in much higher estieme than the Americans, whom they thought, probably rightly, would never suffer the amount of deaths necessary to invade the mainland, just as Adm. Yamamoto warned his own government that they didn’t have the where with all to invade the USA, take Washington and dictate terms.

                1. ewmayer

                  …having spent two bombs and then having no more (for a year or so)…

                  Not even close – see my comment in a similar discussion here last August (quoting Richard Rhodes) — in fact a second Fat Man implosion bomb would have been ready to go just 1 week after Nagasaki, had Truman not ordered the military to hold off shipping its Plutonium core and initiator from Los Alamos to Tinian.

                  Or did I misunderstand the point you were trying to make?

                  1. Cry Shop

                    There were some very serious doubts about that 3rd core, which contained less pure/contaminated material. I very much doubt it would have been assembled, and if assembled would have operated properly. The scientist advising Truman knew this bomb was not reliable.

                    In the end the material was re-processed and put into new cores which were only available in August 1946, hence the calculation of 1 year.

                    1. ewmayer

                      Thanks, but again the references I have found do not support this. With further digging I found this link on the subject, where Answer 1 claims it was the high-explosive lenses which were the issue, rather than the Plutonium core. Richard Rhodes describes how George Kistiakowsky, lead technician in the manufacture of the lenses had had to do the dangerous work of hand-drilling-and-air-bubble-filling-with-liquefied-explosive on several of the lens components of the Trinity add Nagasaki bombs:

                      Delivery of full-sized molds for the implosion lens segments paced the [Trinity] test; they began arriving in quantity only in June, and on June 30 the committee responsible for deciding the test date moved it back to July 16 at the earliest. Kistiakowsky’s group worked night and day at S-Site to make enough lenses. “Most troublesome were the air cavities in the interior of the large castings,” he recalled after the war, “which we detected by x-ray inspection techniques but could not repair. More rejects than acceptable castings were usually our unfortunate lot.”

                      As of July 9 Kistiakowsky did not yet have enough quality lens castings on hand to assemble a complete charge. Oppenheimer further compounded his troubles by insisting on firing a Chinese copy of the gadget a few days before the Trinity shot to test its high-explosive design at full scale with a nonnssionable core. Each unit would require ninety-six blocks of explosive. Kistiakowsky resorted to heroic measures:

                      In some desperation, I got hold of a dental drill and, not wishing to ask others to do an untried job, spent most of one night, the week before the Trinity test, drilling holes in some faulty castings so as to reach the air cavities indicated on our x-ray inspection films. That done, I filled the cavities by pouring molten explosive slurry into them, and thus made the castings acceptable. Overnight, enough castings were added to our stores by my labors to make more than two spheres.

                      “You don’t worry about it,” he adds fatalistically. “I mean, if fifty pounds of explosives goes in your lap, you won’t know it.”

                      Navy Lieutenant Commander Norris E. Bradbury, a brisk, energetic Berkeley physics Ph.D., took charge of assembling the high explosives. On Wednesday, July 11, he met with Kistiakowsky to sort the charges according to their quality. “The castings were personally inspected by Kistiakowsky and Bradbury for chipped corners, cracks, and other imperfections,” writes Bainbridge. “… Only first-quality castings which were not chipped or which could be easily repaired were used for the Trinity assembly. The remainder of the castings were diverted for the Creutz charge” — so named for Edward Creutz, the physicist who was running the Chinese copy test. The castings were waxy, mottled, brown with varnish. They weighed in total, for each device, about 5,000 pounds.

                      [At the Trinity test site] Disaster loomed again that day. The Creutz group at Los Alamos had fired the Chinese copy, measured the simultaneity of its implosion by the magnetic method and called Oppenheimer to report the dismaying news that the Trinity bomb was likely to fail. “So of course,” says Kistiakowsky, “I immediately became the chief villain and everybody lectured me.” Groves flew in to Albuquerque in his official plane with Bush and Conant at noon; they were appalled at the news and added their complaints to Kistiakowsky’s full burden:

                      Everybody at headquarters became terribly upset and focused on my presumed guilt. Oppenheimer, General Groves, Vannevar Bush — all had much to say about that incompetent wretch who forever after would be known to the world as the cause of the tragic failure of the Manhattan Project. Jim Conant, a close personal friend, had me on the carpet it seemed for hours, coldly quizzing me about the causes of the impending failure.

                      Sometime later that day Bacher and I were walking in the desert and as I timidly questioned the results of the magnetic test Bob accused me of challenging no less than Maxwell’s equations themselves! At another point Oppenheimer became so emotional that I offered him a month’s salary against ten dollars that our implosion charge would work.

                      … Sturdy Hans Bethe found a way back from the precipice, Kistiakowsky remembers:

                      Sunday morning another phone call came with wonderful news. Hans Bethe spent the whole night of Saturday analyzing the electromagnetic theory of this experiment and discovered that the instrumental design was such that even a perfect implosion could not have produced oscilloscope records different from what was observed. So I became again acceptable to local high society.

                      Despite the apparent quality control probems with the HE lens assembly, the timeframes described here for readying same is far less than a year. The first link I gave confirms:

                      According “U.S. nuclear stockpile, 1945 – 1950” published in the May 1982 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the atomic bomb stockpile was:

                      June 30, 1946 – 9 implosion bombs

                      Further note that number does not include the multiple cores (such as the one described below) being used up in ongoing testing through which the implosion design was being refined.

                      I believe the ‘troublesome’ third core mentioned at the above link is the (in)famous “demon core” described in the Wikipedia criticality accident entry. Note, however, there is no evidence of said core being in any way defective – it simply was the only finished core remaining in the months following Trinity and Nagasaki, and given the primitiveness and wild disregard for safety in many of the testing facilities of the time, it just happened to figure in a pair of “whoops!” incidents, both alas fatal to the scientists responsible for the resulting accidental supercriticality events (21 August 1945, Harry Daghlian, and 21 May 1946, Louis Slotin). The Wikipedia entry on the demon core notes:

                      After these incidents the spherical plutonium core was referred to as the “demon core”. It was eventually used in the Gilda bomb detonated during Operation Crossroads, the first nuclear test to be conducted after World War II, five weeks after the second fatal accident. It performed normally and with the same explosive yield as the other core used in this set of two tests.

                      The same article mentions that quality control in the Los Alamos metallurgy section was already quite good, especially in comparison with that of the much trickier the explosve-lens manufactury:

                      The refined plutonium was shipped from the Hanford Site in Washington state to the Los Alamos Laboratory; an inventory document dated August 30 shows Los Alamos had expended “HS-1, 2, 3, 4; R-1” (the components of the Trinity and Nagasaki bombs) and had in its possession “HS-5, 6; R-2”, finished and in the hands of quality control. Material for “HS-7, R-3” was in the Los Alamos metallurgy section, and would also be ready by September 5 (it is not certain whether this date allowed for the unmentioned “HS-8″‘s fabrication to complete the fourth core).[3] The metallurgists used a plutonium-gallium alloy, which stabilized the δ phase allotrope of plutonium so it could be hot pressed into the desired spherical shape. As plutonium was found to corrode readily, the sphere was then coated with nickel.[4]

                      (NB: ‘HS’ in the above coded designations appears to be short for ‘half sphere’.)

                    2. Cry Shop

                      No link to reply on your reply, so I’ll have to put it here.

                      Yes, the “demon core” was not the 3rd core, and I don’t know why you bring up this distraction. In emergency situations compromises get made all the time, less that optimal solutions get pushed on because they “might” work, because careers linked to an item that may well never be tested in real life, where a thousand other reasons for failure can exist, have a vested interest in avoiding to explain how they goofed.

                      Nice backtrack though, keep digging and one day you might get a tad closer to the truth.

              2. Plenue

                Not our fault you haven’t read enough history on the subject. The Japanese had been making offers via Moscow to surrender for months. Your incredulity and lack of knowledge isn’t our problem, it’s yours.

              3. Yves Smith Post author

                I suggest you go back and read James Levy’s comments again.

                The US was already firebombing Japanese cities.

                Do you have the foggiest idea what “firebombing” amounts to? Go read about Dresden, that’s been well documented.

                We did not need a “super weapon”. We were already capable of, and actually destroying, entire cities overnight. From the air. No nasty invasion.

                Japan was done. It was seeking terms of surrender before Okinawa.

            2. Cry Shop

              I should add that USSR was playing the intermediary in negotiations between the Allies and Japan, and was gumming up the communications and stringing the war out for the reasons detailed above. Thus the early entry of the USSR into the war a year before the expiry of a peace treaty between the USSR and Japan was a double blow to the inner cabinet.

      5. dcblogger

        Japan was done, but did not KNOW it was done, or more accurately the narrow group that controlled Japan would not admit it was done. Never forget that we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and they did not surrender, we dropped another on Nagasaki and they did not surrender, only after Truman bluffed that he had enough for every city did Hirohito see sense and surrendered against the advice of his war council. My father served in the Pacific and would have been part of the invasion force, so I am undoubtedly prejudiced on this issue, but no, I don’t think we have anything to apologize for. It was entirely Japan’s fault for starting a war of aggression.

        1. Plenue

          Complete nonsense. The Japanese were well aware they had lost. The key issue for them was about being able to escape with at least a vestige of their beloved institutions, chiefly the Imperial household. Chances are your father would have never taken part in any invasion, because there wouldn’t have been one. Plenty of powerful voices saw no reason to invade the home islands. Japan didn’t have much of a fleet, ie offensive power, left. In an absolute worse case scenario America would have just blockaded the island, continuing unopposed bombing raids and fighting off the occasional desperate kamikaze attack. If things really did come to an invasion the US would have left the bulk of the fighting and dying to Ivan (just like they did in Europe). And yet again, the Japanese were already trying to surrender. They weren’t illogical fanatics as they are frequently portrayed. This is easily confirmed historical fact. The idea that we had only the choice between the nukes or a lot of dead infantrymen is pure crap.

      6. Lexington

        We dropped the bombs to show the Soviets what we had. And we never would have done that to Europeans.

        You didn’t have to do it to “the Europeans” – by which you mean the Germans – because you had already accomplished the same ends with conventional munitions. According to the Allies own postwar assessment of strategic bombing ten German cities were completely destroyed by conventional strategic bombing (defined as having more than 90% of their surface area destroyed), and few cities of any size sustained less than 50% destruction. Atomic weapons didn’t qualitatively change the level of destruction, it just made it a lot more efficient: now one bomber with one bomb could accomplish what had previously required a thousand bombers dropping thousands of tons of conventional ordinance. Had atomic weapons been available in time there is no reason to believe they would not have been used against Germany – for the Allied air chiefs there was no fundamental distinction between conventional and atomic weapons, one just got the job done with much less fuss (and this attitude very much shaped postwar American planning for the employment of strategic airpower). When Robert Oppenheimer announced the bombing of Hiroshima at Los Alamos – which was greeted with ecstatic jubilation from his colleagues- he actually said his only regret was that the war in Europe had ended before atomic weapons could be used against Germany.

        The reason atomic weapons were used against secondary Japanese targets like Hiroshima and Nagasaki is because all the A list targets like Tokyo and Kyoto had already been destroyed by conventional bombing.

        The desire to treat the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in isolation from the broader consideration of strategic airpower in the Second World War reflects the particular hold fear of these weapons has on the popular imagination combined with a certain degree of historical illiteracy, not any meaningful difference in the destructive potential of early atomic weapons versus their conventional counterparts (modern nuclear weapons are potentially orders of magnitude more powerful than the relatively puny weapons used in World War II).

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I have read scholars reaching the same conclusion I have. The problem is I’ve got literally three feet of scholarly literature on Japan that I read 30 years ago, as well as a fair number of World War II histories, but I can assure I am far from alone in holding this view.

          The Japanese were demonized in ways the Germans weren’t. Did you forget that we interned Japanese on a large-scale basis i, something not done to Germans in the First or Second World Wars? (Only a very few Germans were interned in WWI, and then the decisions were made on a case-by-case basis)

          Many of people I have run into who were my parents’ age (as in fought in Korea, not WWII, although I also know a Battle of the Bulge vet who is still alive) become very uncomfortable when I speak about my experience in Japan and I’ve have them shut me down, basically saying they hate and distrust the Japanese, a view they do not harbor about Germans or Germany.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Americans are failing to understand so much about the world and forgetting so much of its own recent history itself that it boggles the mind. Apparently winning a fight to the death is the cause of shame for some thinking Americans. The Japanese should never stop apologizing to the US, China, Korea, the Philippines, the entire Pacific Rim nations for its horrific decades of warfare and destruction. The Japanese should thank us for rebuilding them into a global economic powerhouse and protecting them with our military so they would not have to spend their national treasury on military defense. You would think the Emperor would immediately surrender after the initial reports of the first bombing but waited almost a full week to respond, WHY? In an attempt to assure the consolidation of power for his dynastic rule in the aftermath of surrender, he let more people die. Even Gen. Robert E Lee understood the import of saving lives by not fighting to the last man with his last breath, just because! He surrendered and saved many lives instead of making some last stand.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        So are you also advocating that we apologize to the all the countries that we’ve wrecked in the Middle East? And the families we targeted incorrectly for drone attacks in Pakistan? How about our undeclared wars, like the coup of democratically elected Salvadore Allende? How about the depleted uranium all over Iraq? I have yet to hear you take that position. We won’t even take responsibility for bombing a hospital in Kunduz.

        I am sick and tired of American exceptionalism in our conduct of war. We make all sorts of excuses for our belligerence and destructiveness and hold other countries to a completely different standard.

        You can correctly criticize Japan for whitewashing its role in WWII in its schools, but we do the same in our media and textbooks every friggin’ day.

        1. Roger Smith


          One of the most gut-wrenching statements I read yesterday (re-visiting an older article from last year–Nation I believe) was that we are on course to show no signs of remorse or solidarity, or anything other than apathy towards our actions in Japan during the lifetimes of any survivors. That is devastating. I want to organize an “official” U.S. apology event (touring victims to show sympathy in respect in some way, setting up a podium in public, I don’t know). If our leaders can’t do it, whatever, their loss. I don’t want to live in a world where we get away with that.

          In know way am I trying to gloss over any of the other atrocities we have committed or taken part in either. There are too many.

        2. Richard

          Indeed, Yves, I hope in that vein you criticise America for being responsible for Pearl Harbor, given the outrageous way it starved the Japanese of oil and other essential commodities for years prior.

          1. Adam Eran

            I believe the oil embargo was a response to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. In any case I doubt there are any innocents here. We don’t get a prize for being the “good” ones, either. Sorry.

            But how about a national day of atonement? Catholics confess before mass; the U.S. could make it a holiday. Everyone could wear sack cloth and ashes (frankly what public policy makers for the last few decades should be wearing anyway). Maybe we could have some parades with people self-flagellating, as in the Life of Brian…. A merry old time!

        3. YankeeFrank

          WWII is not the same. We were a better nation in many ways then, and we didn’t start WWII, despite what some would like to outrageously claim 75 years later.

          Yes, I think we do need to apologize for Iran, Vietnam, Chile, the Middle East, etc., etc., etc. But that doesn’t change the fact that the USA was fighting world fascism against Japan and Germany in WWII. The atrocities of Germany against the Jews and other vulnerable European populations means we largely disregard any complaint they might have as to how they were treated during the war. Well Japan committed an outrageous number of atrocities during the war as well, some even estimate they killed more than the Germans did. That’s why Japan is literally hated to this day across the Pacific Rim. Post WWII we as a nation went quite mad IMO and I largely blame Germany and Japan for that. We were determined to never let such an existential threat happen again, and that’s largely why all of the awful things we’ve done since WWII came about.

          1. Clive

            The world did not begin in 1939. WWII did not suddenly happen, all by itself, in a vacuum. I for one am not condoning the barbarism and abhorrent crimes which both Japan and Germany committed in WWII.

            But you need to research why they acted the way they did and why they through they weren’t doing anything wrong. A good place to start your studies is British imperialism. When you blame “Germany” or blame “Japan”, your (quite justified) reaction ends up lacking agency. Who in “Japan” did what, and why? Where is the explanation for “Germany’s” actions — or do you just want to simplify it to a nice, simple trope of “a nation turned, collectively, into sub-human psychopaths” ?

            1. YankeeFrank

              Are you actually saying that I should learn why the Germans committed the Holocaust? That they had reasons I should consider? That the Japanese had good reasons for brutalizing Manchuria, etc.?

              I never claimed history started in 1939. To pretend that the fascist powers of Japan and Germany were not utter monstrosities rarely seen in human history is to ignore all history before 1939, which you claim to wish to avoid.

              War is beyond my worst imagining. And I am by no means attempting to say that the Japanese citizenry were, as a whole, responsible for what they did as a nation. But that’s part of the horror of war isn’t it? That it has no regard for innocence or guilt. That’s why Japan’s decision to annihilate our base at Pearl Harbor and annex the Pacific Rim was so awful. To pretend that we can know for sure that fewer Japanese civilians would’ve died if we hadn’t bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki is something we simply cannot know. We needed to win decisively in order to avoid another war with Japan in the coming decades. And from our comfortable perch in the 21st century where we cannot really even imagine an existential threat to the USA, to judge what our ancestors went through at that time, with all the potential ramifications and changes to history that would entail, is not only pointless. It also dismisses the fear, suffering and loss they experienced.

              1. James Levy

                First, Japan was NEVER and existential threat to the USA–never. Second, the B-29 flight that delivered the bombs didn’t even have a fighter escort. Japan was that defenseless. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were murdered, plain and simple. They had no means to defend themselves or fight back. It was a slaughter. It was evil. It was wrong. It probably wasn’t necessary, either, which is the last refuge of the scoundrel anyway.

                It is YOU who are the moral relativist. We are well aware of the evils perpetrated by Japanese soldiers, sailors, and officials. Many were executed for their crimes. But who many of you “Yankees” have been shot for the crimes America has and is committing around the world? So get off your high horse and after you shoot a few dozen war criminals come back and bitch about Japan.

              2. Clive

                To the Japanese, the U.S. embargoes (especially of oil — Japan has zero oil resources and precious few other natural mineral options such as coal) in response to Japan’s ocupations, backed up by the U.S. Pacific fleet, left Japan with no other strategic option but to hit Pearl Harbour.

                In the 19th Century, again, from a Jalanese perspective, the U.S. was already treating Japan as a quasi-colony. Take a look at (written by a non-Japanese) and while it is well worth reading up on the history, on the first pass of the text, forget for a moment the specifics and soak up the overtones. One person’s “opening up” of a country is another person’s conquest or regime change.

                Japan, of all countries, realised that the U.S. could — and had done in the past — not hesitated to use naval power to force Japan to do what it wanted. Did Pearl Harbour really constitute a “surprise attack” given that history?

              3. Plenue

                The Holocaust was the ‘final’ solution for a reason. The earlier plans were just to kick the Jews out of the country. Madagascar was investigated as a possible relocation spot, and as late as 1943 there was contact between the SS and Zionists about relocating Jews. The inability to easily move people beyond the borders of the Reich brought on by the war are what ‘necessitated’ the ‘final solution’. And in fact the rate of killings accelerated as the war drew to a close, similar to how the Hutu diverted more energy and effort into exterminating Tutsi as the RPF advanced during the Rwandan Genocide, rather than using that manpower to slow the advance down.

                And we’ve avoided another war with Japan by permanently occupying them. Far from keeping them unarmed, after a brief dalliance with pacifism in their US written Constitution we’ve allowed them to develop a significant military under the paper-thin guise of it being a kind of ‘special police force’. And Obama has given them the go-ahead to get rid of even that pretense. They have resurgent militarism precisely because we never decisively purged their ranks or punished them for their crimes, like what happened with Germany (where the entire country essentially had its face rubbed in a giant pile of atrocities for decades).

                No one in WW2 was an existential threat to the United States. Yamamoto knew this and never wanted a war with America. He flat out told his bosses that if they do this, he could give them domination of the seas for maybe 18 months, then American industry would steamroll Japan. Which is exactly what happened.

              4. Cry Shop

                Do you know what we did to the Philippines, and how much that informed Japan? You aught to learn why the Germans and Japanese did what they did, because they learned it from you.

                The US practice the same genocide that was used on native Americans on several tribes in the Philippines. Water boarding and other methods of torture started as official US Army Policy during the US war on the Philippines. The British, no nice pansy boys when it comes to slaughtering innocents, were totally shocked by the reckless and barbaric methods the US used on the Russian civilians in the West during our short occupation after WWI.

                The Japanese got to see a bit of that American ethic during their joint occupation in East Russia, prior to that point the Japanese had received high praise for their treatment of German prisoners (taken in China during WWI), and toward Chinese civilians by the British Senior officer under whom they served during the Boxer Rebellion. After watching the Americans at work, they really grasped what they had only inkled on to from early reports on the Americans in the Philippines, that it was all hypocritical talk.

            2. knowbuddhau

              Fascinating discussion one and all, much obliged for the insights.

              I used to buy the “saving American GI lives” story, being a Navy brat and all. Then I read Hiroshima by John Hersey, read up on that one journalist who made it to the cities and reported but was silenced, and changed my mind. It was one of the first and worst of our Cold War crimes.

              But then the outcome happened that we wanted, so it must’ve been the right thing to do, right? /sarc

              I thought by now someone would’ve mentioned the McCollum Memo aka the Eight Action Plan. The Wikipedia page “McCollum Memo,” though, says the article needs attention from an expert in Military History/WWII Task Force, not sure what to make of that.

              Clive, do you have a take on it?

              The McCollum memo, also known as the Eight Action Memo was a memorandum, dated October 7, 1940 (more than a year before the Pearl Harbor attack), sent by Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, who “provided the president with intelligence reports on [Japan]… [and oversaw] every intercepted and decoded Japanese military and diplomatic report destined for the White House”[1][unreliable source?] in his capacity as director of the Office of Naval Intelligence’s Far East Asia section. It was sent to Navy Captains Dudley Knox, who agreed with the actions described within the memo, and Walter Stratton Anderson.

              The memo outlined the general situation of several nations in World War II and recommended an eight-part course of action for the United States to take in regard to the Japanese Empire in the South Pacific,[citation needed] suggesting the United States provoke Japan into committing an “overt act of war”.[2] The memo illustrates several people in the Office of Naval Intelligence promoted the idea of goading Japan into war:[3] “It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado […] If by [the elucidated eight-point plan] Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better.[…]”

              The McCollum memo contained an eight-part plan to counter rising Japanese power over East Asia:

              A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore
              B. Make an arrangement with the Netherlands for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies
              C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek
              D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore
              E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient
              F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific[,] in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands
              G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil
              H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire

              I’ve also heard that there was an admiral that vehemently protested the placement of the fleet, effectively using them as bait.

              1. Jess

                Let’s remember that this memo was written only after the Japanese had embarked on a long, sustained war of conquest over Manchuria, China, SE Asia, etc. It’s also interesting to ponder what might have happened if we had not “goaded” Japan into attacking us. Would we ever have intervened fully in the battle for Europe? All of those who protest that we “goaded” Japan into attacking us tend to forget that it was only after we declared war on Japan that Germany declared war on us. Think about this: Japan never attacks us. We never enter the war in either theater. (Isolationism reigns supreme.) The holocaust and Nazi subjugation of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East is never defeated. Nice world we’d live in today, right?

                1. knowbuddhau

                  My point in bringing this up is to counter the official version of history. Can’t really call Pearl Harbor a “day that will live in infamy” if we provoked it.

                  Besides, to open another can of worms, it’s my understanding that the Soviet Union defeated Germany.

                  Your argument reminds me of the one represented elsewhere here in comments, which holds that “if the US wasn’t bombing the world into [some definition of] order, someone else would be.” To both I say simply, tain’t necessarily so.

                2. Skippy

                  Funny how throughout history… when Titan nations find themselves in a pinch…. its the lesser nations that end up as grist… lessor peoples… sub peoples…. unenlightened peoples…

                  Disheveled Marsupial… So what happens when the – supply – of sub peoples…. runs out… what will – demand – make of that – ?????

                    1. Skippy

                      Seems that depends on capital offsets and forward tax time transfer…. thingy…

                      Disheveled Marsupial… then again labour has always been a tax of profit[s…. how will the – market – view it… in its infinite wisdom…

        4. ahimsa

          Having lived and worked or studied in the US, UK, Germany and Japan, I have always found it intriguing to observe the societies that ensued for the winners and losers of World War II. For one thing, the level of education, healthcare, infrastructure, distribution of wealth, etc. seems to paradoxically have turned out much better in the countries of the losers in Germany and Japan. Why should this be?

          Orwell wrote that the victors write the history books. I think it is also fair to say that winners are not often called upon to do much soul searching. Indeed it would appear it was only with the loss in Vietnam that the USA began to seriously engage with and examine its war-mongering role in any great depth by the population at large. On the contrary, the Germans were forced to exhaustively examine their role in WW II and to consciously (re)develop their society afterwords in a way that no other participating nation has.

          (Of course, I am painting with broad brushstrokes and, for example, one could argue about the quality of life in Japanese culture, regarding family-work balance. The question of the old Soviet Union is whole other topic. For the purposes of comparison I consider the USA, UK, Germany and Japan to all have pursued capitalistic societies with lesser or greater socialistic components.)

          1. YankeeFrank

            Read about the Marshall Plan. The US and Allied powers consciously decided to rebuild Japan and Germany so as to avoid future wars with them. We learned the lesson of WWI late, but we learned it all the same. When else in history has any victor ever rebuilt the loser in a war? WWII was a just war. They are exceedingly rare, and with the string of seemingly incessant unjust wars we have been fighting since then we are starting to forget that we were fighting for the survival of not just our republic, but of the free world.

            1. myshkin

              I question the premise of a ‘just war.’ There are rationalizations for resorting to, what by the time WWI occurred, should be described and understood as organized, mechanized slaughter on a nearly unimagineable scale. To find justice in that sort of activity is a hard slog and I think does a diservice to understanding why WWII or any war happened. It is however necessary to understand for civilizing forces to continue in the future, as unlikely as that seems given the state of the world .

            2. ahimsa

              Am well aware of the Marshall Plan and its funding. Though you may have missed the main thrust of my comment: the USA & UK have lower/worse levels of education, healthcare, infrastructure, distribution of wealth, etc. and the losing countries of Germany and Japan appear to have developed a much solider social contract.

              Was part of the Marshall Plan designed to have worse levels of poverty, etc. in the USA than in the defeated countries???

            3. Gaianne


              This is simply false.

              The original plan for Germany was the Morganthau Plan. The US–in co-operation with Britain and the USSR–was to de-industrialize Germany and reduce it to an agricultural colony. Significant population collapse was anticipated.

              The Morganthau plan was scrapped when the US decided it was soon going to be in conflict–whether or not actually at war–with the Soviet Union. This happened before VE Day. A new plan–the Marshall Plan–was conceived in which the resources and talents of Germany would be directed against the Soviets. Reconstruction of Germany was necessary for the plan to work.

              That the plan was humane was a happy side effect, but not the point.


              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                It would have been pretty hard for farmers to stop the Soviet tanks coming through the Fulda Gap.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Wow — were GERMAN tanks and other armaments what was supposed to stop that imagined “attack through the Fulda gap?” I kind of had the idea that Elvis was driving a US tank, until I found this gem, about how he “served:” At least he was part of a very large contingent of US and related “ally” tank divisions, ready to face down the Red Menace.

                  But the implied notion is that a re-armed German military was gonna stop those tank divisions from the Warsaw Pact side that our generals repeatedly, and falsely as it turns out, sold as almost invincible. To the point that to the consternation of our “NATO allies,” doctrine called for use of “battlefield tactical nuclear weapons,” with the unfortunate side effect of incineration and demolition of huge areas of their terrain… And then there’s the “Able Archer” almost-giant-oopsie:

                  And for people who sleep comfortably at night in the belief that the adults are in charge and know what they are doing, the CIA has a little nightmare in its public files for you to dream on:

            4. Yves Smith Post author

              The Marshall Plan was in large measure recycling European flight capital that came to the US during the late 30s and WWII (this I have been told repeatedly by a political scientist who has done a lot of archival work; I need to see if he can give me sources). The Japanese rebuilding (which BTW was a lot more leisurely) can more correctly be depicted as geopolitically astute altruism.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            To a certain extent I think the key advantages Japan and Germany had after the war was that it allowed them to ignore geopolitical politics, accept their roles as protectorates and focus their societies and resources. This was explicit under the Yoshida Doctrine in Japan, but more implicit in German policy. In the latter case, they have always had something of a mercantilist approach to foreign policy so it tied into a natural inclination of at least some parts of German society. In Japan, it was an explicit decision to focus society on winning the ‘economic’ war rather than develop by Imperialist conquest.

            It is arguable though as to whether they became better societies as a result. Germany always had a progressive side to it, it was after all the first country to introduce pensions and a porto-social security system under Bismarck (mostly, it must be said, to try to counter the popularity of Marxism). Japan scarcely changed pre and post WWII, they just realised that imperial conquest was a dated concept.

            In other respects, they just got lucky. The Korean War gave the real initial spurt to growth in Japan in the early 1950’s, it overcame its chronic loss of capital (not least its loss of so much of its industrial base in China and Korea). Germany had help from the Marshall Plan which gave it its initial post war kick start. It still had a massive amount of technical know-how and a surprising amount of its industrial infrastructure was still in place. And it didn’t have the costs of a post Imperial empire to drag it down, unlike the UK and France.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              In Vedic terms, the victors and the conquered formed a new empire, with the US and the GB being the Warrior and Brahmin castes. and Japan and Germany the Artisan/Merchant caste.

              1. plutoniumKun

                Thats a very good way to look at it!

                And of course that reflects the famous final lines in Seven Samurai – ‘the farmers always win’. With the Yoshida Doctrine (effectively a declaration of economic mercantilist war), the Japanese were determined to win the peace by fair means or foul.

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Add “0.1 percent Elites” after “Japanese,” for a little more accuracy.

                  Query how the “farmers” there and here and everywhere are doing these days. Winning? I think not…

        5. Nate

          My problem with this argument is that it actually implies an American exceptionalism, but reversed–that the United States is exceptionally bad. If the United States wasn’t projecting its power the world round, you can bet that other states would be doing a hell of a lot more of bombing the shit out of each other. We don’t like other states exercising that kind of power, so we stop them.

          I completely agree that many of the US’ interventions have been more destructive than helpful. Ironically, much of it has been done in the name of liberalism, especially after the Cold War. But let’s not delude ourselves that if the United States were to take a more isolationist policy, then everything would suddenly be well and good.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is isolationism.

            And there is interventionism when something actually exists out there for someone to intervene.

            Then, there is interventionism when the MIC needs intervention when none exists. This is where a hegemon can become exceptionally bad.

          2. Jacqueline Read

            The U.S. is the most capitalistic of all nations. Capitalism needs markets. The single reason that the U.S. is accused of global hegemony following its many exercises in regime change, ‘humanitartian war’ [oxymoron], and ‘intervention’ is the extension and possession of markets. Stan Goff’s words are more true now than ever: “The flag follows the money. The soldiers follow the flag.”

            This doesn’t mean the the U.S. is ‘exceptionally bad.’ It means that the U.S. is an empire, and empires have no friends, only interests. Were we to go back and look at the histories of historic empires we would find the same savagery. Get used to it, comrades.

            1. JTMcPhee

              “The US” is not an entity. “The US” is not an agent. But the agents and actors and entities that wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes ARE and have been “exceptionally bad.” And not just as a fortuitous matter of having an enormous continent, sparsely populated by indigens who early on felt the impact of the “shock doctrine,” to rape and loot, on the way to bigger ambitions still.

              I at least don’t care to “get used to it.”

        6. Optimader

          So are you also advocating that we apologize to the all the countries that we’ve wrecked in the Middle East? And the families we targeted incorrectly f

          Paul is correct and so are you on this implied point.
          YES we should absolutely apologize for all of our “unsolicited” destruction in the middle east!
          As well the Vietnamese and any other country we’ve stuck our noses in to”reform in our vision” but were not directing aggression toward the US.

          Japan did sone seriously fckd up stuff and as mentioned upthread to this day in Japan, their role in 20th century history is not candidly taught in school or presented in media.
          . The consequence is the japanese public conceptualize Hiroshima as US aggression with no lager context

      2. diptherio

        You would think the Emperor would immediately surrender after the initial reports of the first bombing but waited almost a full week to respond, WHY?

        Check out some history and you might get some answers. The Japanese leaders didn’t even realize that anything apart from normal bombing had gone on in Hiroshima or Nagasaki until quite a bit later. Why? Because our conventional bombing runs (which we had been making, unopposed, for weeks) were themselves so destructive. Hiroshima was 90% destroyed…and so were half a dozen other cities the same day. Get it? The destruction of the A-bombs just blended right in with all the other destruction we were causing.

        The line that “Japan would have fought a land invasion to the last man” is typical racist BS. Those Asians are just CRAAAZY!!! They’re like animals! Better exterminate them from a safe distance!

        The Japanese were ready to surrender and were simply trying to figure out how to do it with the maximum of face-saving. We were bombing the piss out of them at will. There was no necessity of using atomic weapons, we just wanted to show off our new toys. But that doesn’t play well in the press, so we claimed that bombing saved 50,000 American lives…then it was 100,000 American lives…Bush I bumped it up to a cool 1/2 million…totally speculative numbers, of course, but it’s the excuse that counts, not the validity of the excuse.

        How are we ever supposed to stop being the world’s biggest war-monger when we refuse to own up to our history?

        1. Optimader

          Source links please
          Because our conventional bombing runs (which we had been making, unopposed, for weeks) were themselves so destructive. Hiroshima was 90% destroyed

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, this is a variant of the kamikaze myth: “Those Japanese are so crazy that they volunteer out of loyalty to the Emperor God to happily kill themselves for his greater glory!”

          In reality, those pilots understood the equation: If they didn’t do the kamikaze run, they’d be executed on the spot and their families would be told, dishonoring them. If you were going to be dead, at least be dead and not shame your relatives.

          The Japanese do have a big thing about an honorable death. The samurai prescribed how to do sepukku. It wasn’t just that you sliced your stomach open. The honor lay in executing the last tug of the knife upward, through the liver.

          1. JTMcPhee

            …of course a lot of seppukus got finished off by a “second” whacking off the heads of the sepukku-ers who did not seem to exhibit the intestinal fortitude to finish the job themselves…

          2. Optimader

            In reality, those pilots understood the equation: If they didn’t do the kamikaze run, they’d be executed on the spot and their families would be told, dishonoring them….

            Interestingly, That is absolutely the opposite of at least two first person japanese pilot accounts i have read.

            I actually saw the old fellow interviewed on this very subject. In reality they were given the choice toaccept or decline being kamakaze pilots( for the emperor) or to decline. They were not executed! This guy fortunatly was never able to seccessfully conplete a mission after several attempts
            As a devoted subject of the emperor, Horiyama longed for his moment of glory.

            “We finished our training and were given a slip of white paper giving us three options: to volunteer out of a strong desire, to simply volunteer, or to decline,” Horiyama, now 92, told the Guardian at his home in Tokyo.

            Im sure his interview is online

      3. JTMcPhee

        Love the Nationalist Narrative, don’t we? Us mopes are so effing dumb, ain’t we? Justification, personification, and ov course projection, over a massive substrate that is the real nature of the beast Americaine. But for the French royalty and military, :we: would still be under British rule? And the biggest part of the defeat of the Nazi machine was thanks to the efforts and losses of the Soviet Union. Got to justify that first-use of nuclear weapons, though. Lots of effort has gone into selling that action as justified, projecting the aggressive arrogance of the US imperium onto the Japanese.

        Too bad people don’t attend to the real nature of the Great Game, its ongoing nature, the modi operandi of all the working parts (“economic hit men,” Special ops, color revolutions, Krupp-like sale of weapons to all sides, IBM- and US petroleum company and Henry Ford support for Nazi activities, “regime change,” a visible (if you look a little) cadre of sneaky-Petes playing out “scenarios,” practicing and taking advantage of corruption, on and on…), the big and small “movements and moments of historical significance” played up or buried by the carefully crafted and maintained Narrative, all that always reduced to little morality plays in which “we” are the “good guys,” or at least the self-justifying “winners” who get to write the history.

        I type this not hoping that any of it, which I could happily and extensively document, will make the slightest bit of difference in the belief structures and inhaled world-views of any individual.

        But take a look at the idiot notion that Japan was the Root Cause Bad Guy (as delineated by the empire-building, Manifest Destiny bullshitters who rule us and their apologists: Scorn Wiki as a source, but read the article, maybe to try and find the holes in a recitation that has been heavily worked ov re by apologists for the US but still notes that it was US actions to try to strangle their opposite numbers in the rush to do the neoliberal thing across the Asian Sphere, where the Great Powers are still at it and not only there but across the whole planet, “full spectrum dominance 24/7:” And of course Wiki, as worked over by interests, adds “alleged” to the description of an attempt by the Usual Hyper-Rich Bastards to pull off a coup in 1933, denominated “the Business Plot,”, which the same set has now accomplished by “democratic” methods (more on that attempt here,

        I’ve paid a personal physical and mental price for being a “team player” and buying into the bulls have!t about “democracy” and “protecting our great [vastly rapacious corrupt] Nation.” It really chaps me to keep having the BS ladled out by The Establishment come pouring out of all the mouths and minds of people who in tiny ways have benefited from the looting our Rulers have used us to accomplish, especially now that they have hollowed out the US continent pretty well and moved on to new “opportunities.” How silly to spout and applaud the little fractional parts of that Narrative (“millions more would have died if Our Great Nation had not blasted and irradiated those two cities and burned millions more and They Started It! And Just Got What They Deserved!) in complete disregard of how us mopes have been used and burned through like coal fields by creatures who know how to manipulate and motivate us against any substantive interest of ourselves (well, maybe if we have lucked into a ten-Bagger, initiated Facebook, or have a nice sinecure in the service of the Lords.

        “History” as a discipline is a selection of items in support of a viewpoint, often dishonestly and incompletely reported. Maybe, given how humans cogitate and formulate fables and stories and look for morals and validation, nothing else is possible. Maybe humanity is really ripe, thanks to our gluttony, for a true “end of history,” triggered by the “neo” sh!tes who facilitate the Great Looting. We, collectively, have not only crapped in our nests, but are eating and burning them too.

        Congratulations, Humanity! “You coulda been a contender!”

    3. Roger Smith

      Sounds like you should be a U.S. foreign policy advisor. “Bomb them sir.” Did you attend a certain ceremonious event yesterday at 4pm EST?

      How quickly you justify the needless deaths of so many…

    4. OwenFinn

      The citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki(especially the women and children) were victimized twice – both by their own despicable government of the time, and then again, when they were targeted by the US for instant annihilation.

      Obama doesn`t need to apologize. He needs to speak out against war – all war, and every war, and how Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuclear weapons are proof of the insane logic of war.

      This would be an important message for PM Abe and the Japanese right wing too. Unfortunately, I can`t see it happening.

      BTW – for understanding the war from a Japanese perspective I highly recommend Saburo Ienaga`s “The Pacific War”.

      1. Clive

        This is a very important point. Japan’s right wing — here as elsewhere — is taking notice not of what the U.S. has to say on how nations should behave in a geopolitical sense but what the U.S. does. “Might is right”, “never apologise”, “always put your own interests first”, “get what you can and worry about the consequences later” — if I may characterise U.S. foreign and military interventionist policies in those ways — are *not* setting a shining example to the rest of the world. Instead, they find a highly receptive audience in the resurgent Japanese right wing (which is getting increasing vehement).

        While definitely (for the time being, anyway) a watered-down version of the U.S. and Europe’s playbook in the Ukraine — which had as a feature the fermenting of nationalist grievances against an old adversary (Russia) — the Obama administration’s willingness, aided and abetted by the awful Abe government, to stoke up Japanese-Chinese antagonism as a proxy for the U.S-China power play is clumsy, ham-fisted and risky strategy. Japan’s right-leaning industrial elite has been hitherto balanced by a strong social contract and the resultant social cohesion. Well, the social contract is certainly fraying in Japan so this counterweight can’t be relied on to challenge the “strong Japan” right-wing or far-right Japan supremacist factions.

        So far, things muddle along in a typical Japanese compromise. But this sort of “the middle ground will always hold” has a habit of working, right up until the point where it doesn’t. It’s all just waiting to blow back in the U.S.’ face.

        Obama could as you say take this opportunity to nudge popular Japanese sentiment back towards its naturally pacifist leanings. But he’s such a lazy, ignorant, numbskull in his overly-optimistic assessment of his own strategizing cleverness, he won’t be able to resist doubling down, I suspect.

        1. Kokuanani

          he’s such a lazy, ignorant, numbskull in his overly-optimistic assessment of his own strategizing cleverness

          Thank you, Clive.

          One of the best summaries of Obama I’ve ever seen.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, somewhat off-topic, but the sheer shallowness of Obama’s foreign policy has been shocking. No doubt we’ll be bombarded with propaganda about Obama’s great works for the next 6 months or so, but I don’t think future historians will be so kind. His refusal to engage in any sort of sensible way in the Pacific is particularly noteworthy. Its no wonder most Asian countries are busy arming up and going their own way.

            1. JustAnObserver

              The pacific doesn’t have oil. The 11 dimensions always reduce down to that single black one.

          2. Steven

            Japan had a center-left government when Obama took office. He did nothing to support it and put every obstacle he could in its way, including insisting on a new Marine airbase in Okinawa, when an underused Air Force base already exists and could be shared by both services. Obama helped paved the way for the current rightwing government.

            Obama cares mainly about his image. He’s the ultimate triumph of style over substance.

            1. jawbone

              Did Obama’s Wall Street and Big Money backers want a center-left government in Japan? Did it fit into the Corporatist plans?

              Usually, Obama does as his benefactors and Sugar Daddies tell him to do.

              BTW, I cannot believe Obama thinks he can get away with speeches about less war anymore. He’s pretty much made the Peace Prize a deadly joke.

              1. myshkin

                It was something of a joke already given its origins and some of the recipients. Henry Kissinger for instance. His co recipient, Le Duc Tho turned it down.

                The committee probably had hopes of shoe horning Obama into honoring his campaign pledge to work for nuclear disarmament.
                C’est la vie.

      2. nowhere

        Obama doesn`t need to apologize. He needs to speak out against war – all war, and every war, and how Hiroshima and Nagasaki and nuclear weapons are proof of the insane logic of war.

        Agreed, but it seems his approach is to spend $1 trillion improving our nuclear weapons. Nobel Peace Prize, indeed.

    5. Clive

      You badly need to update your thinking in relation to the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The “lesser of two evils” narrative has been widely debunked as history being written by the winning side(others have covered the ground well enough above). The only real deal-breaker the Japanese had was to permit the emperor to continue in a head-of-state role and not be put on trial. Everything else was negotiable and Japan was in no position to dictate terms. The allies were perfectly willing to allow that condition to be met (as indeed they later did).

      The U.S. had not only air superiority, it had total air supremacy. It could use conventional ordinance to conduct bombing raids (the accuracy of which had improved immeasurably since the start of WWII) at will, day or night, in any location.

      The imminent entry of the soviet Union in to the Asia-Pacific theatre was the only imperative to the use of nuclear weapons. Japan, its destitute and starving population, crippled military and ruined infrastructure wasn’t going anywhere.

      To answer Yves’ question, the Japanese are increasingly vociferous and vocal in their demands for a restatement of the U.S. position on the nuclear strikes. The old, narrow and very selective “we had no choice, we weren’t willing to incur the huge casualties from a ground assault on the mainland” established position is now too limited and too self-serving to stand. There’s simply too much evidence which contradicts this position. The Japanese middle-of-the-road opinion wants, as a minimum, an acknowledgment of the fact that mass civilian casualties were unnecessary and more clear-cut military targets were available and that the U.S. could have — even if nothing else was changed — detonated the bombs at a higher altitude thus reducing the fallout compared to the near-ground burst which chosen.

      If the Obama administration does not take the opportunity to at least start to move the U.S. justification for the use of nuclear weapons to encompass some of the nuances, it will be seen as a slap in the face and a continued example (to the Japanese way of thinking) of how the U.S. cannot be subtle in foreign relations.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘mass civilian casualties were unnecessary and more clear-cut military targets were available’

        This is what makes vaporizing 100,000 people in a couple of city centers into acts of state terror.

        Britain’s “Bomber Harris” followed a similar policy of bombing German cities to induce civilian terror, not to destroy munitions plants. (Dresden and all that.)

        A twisted notion that “it’s not terror if you use [state] air power” still prevails, as Obama’s “signature drone strikes” show.

        Air superiority is such a sacred doctrine of U.S. thinking that it’s precluded any meaningful military victory since 1945.

        Winning! (in our own minds)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The fire bombings of Tokyo were, more or less, equally effective (perhaps more immediate but not over the long term) in generating civilian casualties.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Yes, although its interesting that the US refrained from mass strategic bombing in Europe (leaving it to the Brits), but were happy to pursue it against Japan. The thing is, all the post war military reviews concluded that it was a waste of time – it had minimal impact on the German war machine, and a lot less than it was assumed on the Japanese military. It just killed a lot of civilians and did horrendous material damage. Japan was brought to its knees by the destruction of its merchant fleet. But it seems a reflex action when you have an airforce – you must use it. It was used to similarly minimal effect in Korea and then of course Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia.

            1. JTMcPhee

              …and besides, it’s just so damn much FUN to blow sh!t up! Most of us, in our hearts, really get off on it. Doing it, or watching it, or engaging in role-playing in all the computerized combat simulations now heading for REAL fun as Virtual Reality ramps up. Hence the popularity of War Porn, of which one can dig into an enormous collection by just doing a search in youtube on “syria iraq war.”

            2. Mark P.

              ‘its interesting that the US refrained from mass strategic bombing in Europe (leaving it to the Brits), but were happy to pursue it against Japan’

              Not true. The US participated with the RAF in Bomber Harris’s mass attacks on Germany and that’s in fact where Curtis Lemay learned how to create bombing patterns that would turn into fire-storms of the scale necessary to destroy a city. Lemay then applied that knowledge against Japan.

              1. JTMcPhee

                A fun recital of US bombing activities (“area bombing” under cover of a thin veneer of nominal military targeting) in connection with the destruction of Dresden and maybe 130,000 people.

                And let us not forget “Operation Gomorrah,” what a wonderfully Biblical choice of “operation designation:” Memorialized in “The Night Hamburg Died.” And of course there’s the illuminating take on all this, from Kurt Vonnegut, in “Slaughterhouse -Five.”

      2. uahsenaa

        I do wonder about this, though, Clive. Certainly, if I polled my Japanese friends, nothing short of “close all military bases, apologize for the atomic bombing, and make reparations” would satisfy them, but they are super progressive/socialist.

        I read both the Yomiuri and Asahi reportage on the visit, and they both take a characteristically hands off approach, acknowledging the concern while stating the common American position (bombing was justified) as being merely “out there” as if in the aether.

        Though you could be right. Japan, like most developed countries, is made of a largely progressively minded populace ruled by a right-wing cabal, so it’s hard to know whether the reporting reflects public opinion or what they were told to say in the press clubs. Given the state suppression of any news regarding Fukushima, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a fundamental disconnect.

        1. Clive

          Oh, yes, definitely. If the U.S. really wanted to be smart, it would put — as a minimum — a detailed plan and a timetable for the closure of the most contentious bases in Japan into motion. And — if not throw out an outright apology for the atomic bombings — then at least “express deep and profound regret” and offer to have a committee “review and publish where helpful ” archive / secret materials and documentation to fully disclose the events leading up to the use of nuclear weapons. That would be the sensible thing to do.

          I end up, unfortunately, setting a context whenever I write about the U.S. and Japan of a very low bar and still lower expectations, thinking that even a modicum of sanity would be an improvement. What I should really do is forget the conventional framing and say what would be the right thing to do and ignore totally the established U.S. position. But since I know it will never happen, I end up being self-limiting and self-censoring in what I say.

          In terms of Japanese media coverage, it’s always worth keeping in the forefront of our minds that, from my frequent observation, even if the Japanese are utterly convinced of a position, cannot understand why non-Japanese would ever think differently and are perplexed (annoyed, even) at the inability of non-Japanese to get the point, you rarely — if ever — find this conveyed explicitly. Far more common is the (as you rightly describe) much more nebulous “well, some people think this, some people think that, the matter will most likely be remaining open and receive continuous further consideration”. What they really mean is “why are you being so dumb and persisting in sticking to your clearly idiotic thinking?”

        2. PlutoniumKun

          I can’t claim a great knowledge of ordinary Japanese public opinion, but I think a crucial problem is that the electoral system is designed to give a disproportionate weight to rural (and so quite conservative) voters. In any country its easy to get a distorted view because as an outsider you will tend to meet, and talk to, relatively well educated cosmopolitan city types (one reason I think why so many commentators get countries like Turkey or Iran so badly wrong). It may be the Japanese tendency to avoiding conflict, but I’ve always found it almost impossible to get my Japanese friends and acquaintances to talk politics – they just see it as something that ‘important people’ are interested in, but doesn’t concern them. But it is noticeable I think that even parties which are considered left wing or progressive in Japan are either very tiny, or really aren’t all that left wing or progressive when you scratch beneath the surface.

          1. Clive

            Yes, I agree big time.

            If I could fix one thing in Japan, it is the electoral ward boundaries not being redrawn as population changes. Many countries have had this sort of “depopulated rural areas getting bribed, thus causing tensions between vastly more populous urban areas — which never gets fixed because of vested interests in the rural areas and corruption politicians not having any incentives to change things” type of problem and it always creates the same sorts of distortions. That’s you too I’m looking at, Thailand. (amongst others).

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Another example is Taiwan. I was cycling around Taiwan a few years ago and I couldn’t help noticing that even tiny villages had huge police stations full of very bored looking policemen. I asked a Taiwan friend and it seems that politicians see keeping a police station open is a good way of being seen to combine being tough on crime with providing jobs in villages – which in turn is a big vote winner.

          2. flora

            “disproportionate weight to rural (and so quite conservative) voters.”

            Sometimes I think of the rural vote in all countries – US, France, Japan,etc. – as being the ‘ancient’ vote, as opposed to the urban, cosmopolitan ‘modern’ vote. I often deride the ‘ancient’ vote for various reasons. But when I look at what segment has been best able to put the brakes on the TPP and the TTIP it invariably includes the rural ‘ancient’ vote, sometimes by large margins. Then I respect the strength of the rural vote. Shall I scoff at the rural vote or thank them for saving the country from a terrible trade deal? So confusing.

      3. EndOfTheWorld

        Yeah, whattayagot to lose? Just say “I’m sorry”—-it will go a long way with the nice Japanese people.
        Obama apparently has no mind of his own on foreign policy. His advisors tell him what to say.

        1. TheCatSaid

          “His advisors tell him what to say.”
          And–still ongoing in 2012–the shareholders who “own” him as per Apostles of Power. Very revealing book, highly recommended.

        2. Carl

          In the misbegotten belief that strength means never apologizing, saying “I’m sorry” is just not done in the US.

      4. YankeeFrank

        If the Japanese were so ready to surrender, why didn’t they immediately after Hiroshima? As I understand it, they were still trying to dictate terms and thought we only had one bomb. After all the misery and death they caused with their imperial war machine they don’t get to dictate terms.

        And has it occurred to anyone that showing how terrible nuclear bombs are is the only thing that has stopped anyone from actually using them since? Blowing up some water would have done nothing.

        I’m not saying I absolutely know it was the right OR wrong decision. But I don’t think anyone else can really make that determination either. We don’t know what would have been. A land invasion from Russia with their Katyusha rockets. That would’ve been really good for the Japanese. Perhaps the bombs were the only thing that kept Japan from becoming part of the Soviet Union. Hmm. History is complicated. WWII is the ONLY war the US was involved in since the Civil War that was a just war. There is such a thing. Just because almost all of us have never lived through one doesn’t mean its fiction.

        1. Clive

          The timing of the second nuclear strike on Nagasaki, if anything, adds weight to the argument that the U.S. was doing more than just trying to shorten the war. The Nagasaki bomb was dropped almost as soon as logistically possible after the Hiroshima one. A delay of a few weeks or a month would have had zero impact on any follow-up atomic weapon use but would have given additional time for peace talks.

          And don’t forget that the Nagasaki bomb was a plutonium device — there is considerable speculation that the U.S. wished to test in the field both a uranium (Hiroshima) bomb and a plutonium (Nagasaki) bomb because they were entirely different designs.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            It also of course does not address the simple question of why cities were chosen as ‘demonstration’ projects. It was always the understanding of the Manhattan Project designers that the logical first target was either a prominent military base on an uninhabited island, or simply dropping it in the middle of Tokyo Bay.

          2. Synapsid


            The plutonium bomb was tested in New Mexico, on a tower though, not from a plane. The uranium bomb was tested at Hiroshima.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Just before surrounding, the emperor recorded a radio speech – the first time ever his subjects would hear the divine voice.

          The same evening, the Imperial Palace was attacked by elements in the Imperial Japanese Army seeking to destroy the tape.

          Peace was coming, but it took time.

      5. Dr. Roberts

        Finally the Soviet invasion was mentioned. Three Army Groups, in one of the largest military operations in history, sliced through the Japanese army like a hot knife through butter and effectively ended their war on mainland Asia. Had we not dropped the bomb the war would have been over in days, weeks at most. Even the American media was too ashamed to describe the events accurately at the time, telling us it was dropped on a military base at Hiroshima. The base outside of town was left virtually unscathed.

        1. YankeeFrank

          Yep, and the Japanese would’ve done so much better under Soviet control than the Marshall Plan. Let’s ask the Japanese how they’d have liked that.

          1. James Levy

            Yes, those children were burned to death for The Greater Good.

            You represent everything vile, smug, and self-satisfied in the American Id.

      6. Sam Adams

        You must ask why “[t]he only real deal-breaker the Japanese had was to permit the emperor to continue in a head-of-state role and not be put on trial.” Yves has always asked ‘who benefits.’ The ‘Who’ are the same class today who demand a re-examination of the necessity of the bombing. The shogunate never really disappeared in Japan and we see the children ascending to power with the child, Abe.

      7. Carolinian

        In the classic Making of the Atomic Bomb Richard Rhodes goes into considerable detail about the background of the decision and how Truman was under the sway of Jimmy Byrnes, a southern conservative who hailed from my own humble burg. Byrnes very much believed in the Big Stick and there’s no question the dropping of the bomb was partly to send a message to Stalin (who, because of his spies, already knew all about it). But beyond that the book makes clear that having spent billions creating the thing including giant factories in Tennessee and Washington state there was very little chance that they were not going to use it. Certainly Oppenheimer didn’t disagree although Leo Szilard did come here to try to persuade Byrnes otherwise.

        And the reason Obama won’t apologize is that he’d then have to apologize for all the people blown up during his own administration. It would take the rest of his time in office.

      8. myshkin

        “If the Obama administration does not take the opportunity to at least start to move the U.S. justification for the use of nuclear weapons to encompass some of the nuances, it will be seen as a slap in the face and a continued example (to the Japanese way of thinking) of how the U.S. cannot be subtle in foreign relations.”

        OwenFinn and Clive. Good points, Obama could give the Japanese left some ground to resist the hard liners who are pressing for changes in the interpretaion of the post WWII ‘pacifist constitution.’ Japan, Abe and the Japanese military esablishment are pushing increased military spending, the manufacture and export of military hardware and a way to change the mission of the self defense forces to include collective, mulit lateral military interventions, something that had been resisted. Meanwhile there is plenty of maneuvering by Russia and China in the region to lend weight to the Japanese militarists’ desires, the oppositional, polarizing approach the US employs as geo political strategy has its uses but not for the cause of a more peaceful, cooperative world.

        Whether Obama believes or has the inclination to express regret for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and whether he has the political courage are all different questions. I recall some years ago (1994-5) plans for a Smithsonian exhibition assembled at the Air and Space Museum on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and the bombings. The curators orginally had intended to introduce the questions surrounding the use of the bombs. The Congress and media went beserk, I think also the VFW; the show was re-written curators reprimanded for thinking and well, here we are.

    6. myshkin

      Eisehnower, Marshall and many other top military officers prosecuting the war were against the use of the weapon believing it to be unecessary militarily and deplorable on moral grounds.
      Japan was suing for peace in July, knew the Russians were about to declare war and wanted to end hostilities. From my reading over the years it likely wouldn’t have happened under FDR. Truman and SOS Byrnes were making a point with the Russians.
      Coincidentally it ignited the nuclear arms race while settling the dubious distinction on the US as the only country to have used a nuclear weapon.

      1. uahsenaa

        Robert McNamara put it rather succinctly: if we had lost the war, we [meaning those in the administration involved in the planning] all would have been tried as war criminals.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        MacArthur was against it as well, I believe.

        The lesson, with the Soviets testing their own atomic bombs later, is that we have to beware of magical tools.

        “If the good guys are able to use it, the bad guys could too.”

        Be careful opening the Pandora’s Box.

      3. YankeeFrank

        So our top generals were against it but we used them anyway. Not very plausible, but possible. If the Japanese wanted to surrender unconditionally they could have. But they wanted to secure their power in the post-war period so they didn’t.

        We could’ve bombed the Imperial Palace instead of the two cities but it was thought that the country might fall to chaos without its leadership in place. I think that was a mistake but I could be wrong.

        And the nuclear arms race was coming whether we dropped those bombs or not. To pretend that not dropping them would’ve stopped it is silly. In fact, dropping those bombs may be the only thing that stopped the US and USSR from destroying each other because we saw how horrible nukes really are. Humans don’t have much imagination if you haven’t noticed.

        1. myshkin

          “So our top generals were against it but we used them anyway. Not very plausible, ”
          It is enitrely plausible if you understand what SOS Baird was worried about. The statements of Marshall, Nimitz, Eisenhower, LeMay, Leahy and others concur that Japan was ready to surrender and the bombs were not necessary.

          “And the nuclear arms race was coming whether we dropped those bombs or not. To pretend that not dropping them would’ve stopped it is silly.

          The USSR was devastated, had lost 20 million in the war and was ready to start rebuilding; entering an expensive arms race with the US was not on the top of their priority list. The US was the only nation possessing nuclear weapons at the end of the war and had an opportunity to end the arms race before it began, it chose instead to develop the H bomb. Instead of including the Soviets in the European rebuild, without whom the war would have been lost and who had taken the brunt of the war, they were excluded.

          ” In fact, dropping those bombs may be the only thing that stopped the US and USSR from destroying each other because we saw how horrible nukes really are.”
          Given the cold war period, the Cuban missile crisis, Reagan et. al. I think it more plausible that luck was the key factor that stopped the US and the USSR from destroying each other.

          1. RP

            Stalin let the members of the Soviet sphere of influence that would become the Warsaw Pact states know that acceptance of USA $$$ via the Marshall Plan was a non-starter.

            The post-WW2 ideological war for the hearts and minds of Europe (and the world) began well before May 1945 or August 1945.

    7. TK421

      How would invading Japan have been worse than invading Germany? I know the USSR helped there, but with Hitler down the USA didn’t have to split its resources anymore.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Japan was ready to surrender.

        The argument for invading being costly was the supposed or reputed tenacity of resistance, among which was Kamikaze fighters and mass suicides in the islands the US had invaded, to be expected.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Thank you for saying “reputed”. See my comment above re kamikaze pilots:

          IIRC, Japanese soldiers were told not to be captured alive. This became interesting when they did become POWs Since they had no instruction as to what to do, they cooperated when captive.

          I have no idea what they were told about how POWs were treated, maybe hints that they’d be roasted alive and they were better off dying. And the Russians really were pretty awful to their POWs, and the US shot more in Europe than we’ve ‘fessed up to. Suicide is a more favored way of dying in Japan than in the West, and a Japanese soldier would have to assume the best he would get was life imprisonment out of being captured….

          Plus the way theses things ran in Japan, it could have easily been the top guys telling the juniors to kill themselves, again with the obvious threat that if they didn’t comply, they’d be shot. So you only needed a committed few leaders to have mass suicides come off.

          1. flora

            Yves, with respect, I believe the way the Japanese Imperial Army treated Allied Forces POWs was ‘instructive’ for their own soldiers. Imperial soldiers fearing the same treatment should they become POWs of Allied Forces.

            1. flora

              adding: this was before the Geneva Conventions, which Cheney later called “quaint”.

            2. flora

              adding: (and as a gaijin I will humbly accept correction if I am mistaken) The samurai code of Bushido – death before dishonor, where capture is a form of dishonor and therefore contemptible – may have played a part in the Japanese treatment of Allied POWs; treatment considered grossly inhumane and barbaric to Allied Forces.

    8. participant-observer-observed

      The following comment debates are very illuminating, but I am surprised that no one took up the TPP-pimping dynamics. Isn’t POTUS still on his corporatist-in-chief world TPP tour? (TPP opposition in Taiwan seems weak despite strong farmer constituency & green movement).

      If the WWII talking point was intended to be a decoy, it is working marvelously (salient comments notwithstanding).

      I wish a Japanese journalist would ask POTUS when the USA will stop using depleted uranium weaponry and what he thinks about the thousands of children victims deformed for life all in the name of brand-USA.

  2. David s

    Is there any surprise that Hillary’s campaign stinks?

    She’s a horrible politician with a track record of betrayal, and is a Gore-like campaigner.

    Her only hope is that Trump self destruct, and I wouldn’t count on it.

    1. dcblogger

      never forget that Gore WON the popular vote and the vote count in Florida was stopped. He won with the entire press railing against him.

  3. jhallc

    Re: Facebook liberal bias

    “With that influence comes a significant responsibility,” Poynter ethicist Kelly McBride wrote.
    That’s why McBride, a former ombudsman for ESPN, offered what she called a “crazy idea” in a Poynter blog post on Monday: “What if Facebook (and other companies that have clear ability to influence the marketplace of ideas) had a public editor, like The New York Times does.”

    … and we all know how well that works …. and ESPN has an Ombudsman?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      One wonders what “conservative” news means? Stories about wage decline, wealth inequality? CIA operations in Syria?

  4. allan

    US Treasury warns on online lenders’ business models

    And yet columnist Matt Levine at Bloomberg is totally nonchalant about the shenanigans [italics in the original]:

    I confess that I don’t understand the LendingClub scandal. … I feel like, if 2008-era bankers did what LendingClub did, we’d give them a medal. … Of course LendingClub both runs a market and takes positions in that market (and its executives also take positions). Of course sometimes it fudges loan documentation and then corrects problems in quiet ad-hoc ways. That’s how banks work.

    Or, as NPR once described the robo-signing of foreclosure documents, just a little sloppy paperwork.

        1. allan

          Thanks for the link. Levine deserves some credit for the climb-down.
          The power of attorney thing is pretty amazing.

  5. nippersdad

    Sounds like Obama’s Howard Commencement speech was a “centrist” primal scream in the guise of a speech on black empowerment. Someone in the Professional left called him an Uncle Tom, and he is not pleased. He never had a very thick skin, but it seems like he is getting ever more sensitive as his term winds down and opportunities to spin the legacy become thin on the ground.

      1. nippersdad

        There are a lot of similarities between them. They make for a very elegant, if noxious, little pair.

          1. nippersdad

            Oh my. I now feel hopelessly bourgeois.

            She sounds like something out of an episode of Absolutely Fabulous. I never realized that those were documentaries. :)

          1. RP

            All Third Way Neoliberal Manage-The-Decline-For-The-Commoners Class Warriors From Above. They have earned nothing in their lives save the contempt of those of us paying attention.

            A pox on all of them. #BernieOrBust

      2. Cry Shop

        Barry O could barely stifle a yawn, and was sitting back, legs crossed and completely dis-engaged, at the round table in Hanover with Merkel, Cameron, et al, — probably pissed he can’t fly Air Force 1 to Sunnyland for yet another round of golf (32 times last year at Sunnyland alone). Tony Blair would be too disciplined and smarmy to show that kind of crass behavior.

        My guess from the body language, the amount of time they purposefully spend away from each other, is there a very good chance the Obamas will either be divorced or separated within 5 years of his leaving office, can’t see Tony ever leaving Cherie, he has no dreams of life beyond the public show.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Equality is not when a black Einstein is recognized for his brilliances; rather, it is when a mediocre black gets the same job as a mediocre white. Thomas Frank is talking about the failing in the thinking of the Democratic right in his new book; that all of these problems are solved if only everyone would work a bit harder on their educations, just like Obama (and Hillary, and Larry Summers, (etc.) did).

      The problem of course is that education simply changes who gets the jobs, not whether there are enough to do around. Even the slightest of introspection on Obama’s part would bring this point home. Obama certainly has a nice set of sheepskins for a Presidential aspirant, but so do thousands of other people, and yet only one gets the job. Sure, other of them get good jobs too. but some end up bartenders in Key West. And even then, even if everyone has Obama’s resume, someone’s still got to tend bar in Key West, and throw out the trash when the night is over. As Frank points out, this new Democratic right simply doesn’t see problems this deeply. So much easier to say that bartender just didn’t try hard enough.

      1. nippersdad

        While I found most of the speech offensive, I think the most egregious part was where he took MLK as an example of how to get things done. That he gave great speeches, but he also sat down and worked with Pols to find concrete ways to advance the civil rights movement. This from a guy who ran on “holding his feet to the fire” and “making him do it” and then used the FBI fusion centers to crush the Occupy movement, or praises a “task force” six years into his Administration for going after predatory police departments that he could have shut down using his Justice Department civil rights division on day one………..

        The guy who pushes things like TPP in secret and has legalized everything the Bush Administration did is in no position to criticize anyone, IMHO. His hypocrisy knows no bounds, and that, ultimately, will be the legacy he is franticly burnishing right now.

        1. portia

          Geez, what gall.
          I guess he never read this MLK quote:

          We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

          Letter From A Birmingham Jail, 1963

      2. John

        This is the problem with promoting education as an end in itself: when you get an over-education/over-qualified workforce, you have people with PhDs tending a bar in Key West. And then the system starts to seem really unfair.

        1. Cry Shop

          Nothing wrong with an advanced education and being a bar tender. Rather it’s the thought that an education is preparation for a career rather than education is a life long way of life is the problem.

          What’s really gone wrong with our sytem is that jobs pay so poorly that bartenders, librarians, garbageman no longer have the energy or time away from work to write poetry, songs, fiction, or in the case of any modern day Albert Eisenstein (who was a patent clerk at day when he did his best work at night) to change the very way we look at time and the universe. Leisure has become a sin, we work 60 hours or more a week just to survive, and even at home are at beck and call thanks to “technology”.

          Peter Joseph is right, unemployment, or at least under-employment should be a good thing, but capitalism is the process of squeezing the most money out of ever shittier experiences.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Preparation for a career should be not tuition-free.

            Some careers are more lucrative than others; some university brands return more profitably. And if one is born with a low-IQ, one may not even get to enjoy the program at all.

            1. Cry Shop

              Er, what does that have to do with my comment?

              Tax on knowledge? As to the fortunes of a ill spent career, that could be gotten by better taxes. I’d love to have honest people study how Wall Street crooks steal us blind so they could be better enforcers, instead of having to become entangled with crooks themselves to pay off the business loan. Think before you act.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I agree with your comment, all of it, but especially the beginning.

                I thought I’d add my own contribution by following it up a little bit, that since education was no longer about a way of life, but about preparing for a career, it should be financed by those seeking one.

          2. TheCatSaid

            Thanks Yves and Mark for highlighting this article. It leads me to speculate whether Rhodes might be someone working closely with the behind-the-scenes architects described in Apostles of Power. (Not one of the shareholders, but an operative or someone close to one of the enterprise organizers.)

              1. TheCatSaid

                That’s interesting. It could explain a lot about Ben Rhodes’ career. (Or the other way around and his brother David benefited from Ben’s connections.)

          3. John

            But people in the US rack up ridiculous amounts of debt to pay for a college (or post-graduate) education that is becoming increasingly necessary in this economy, and when they have no job opportunities, things become very difficult.

            I believe in education for education’s sake but it also has the purpose of career preparation as well. A lot of smart kids from privileged backgrounds love studying Chaucer just for the thrill of it but your average American does not think like this. They shell out the money for college and take the risk because they believe it will pay off in career opportunities. Now that that’s no longer the case, we have a lost generation.

            I’m one of them. Sure, my four years at an elite private school gave me a fantastic education, but it neither taught me common sense nor how to find a job. Fast forward six years later and pretty much the only work I’ll be able to get is teaching (high school), although I’ll probably have to spend a huge chunk on graduate school as well if I want to do so. Had I just gone to my local public university (very low-ranked), I would still be able to do that and wouldn’t have cost my family a fortune. I might not be able to read and write as good but at the end of the day, how much does that really matter? I was never quite creative enough to be an artist anyway.

                1. B1whois

                  I thought what you said here was very important for understanding why the youth are leading the Bernie Revolution.

                  “A lot of smart kids from privileged backgrounds love studying Chaucer just for the thrill of it but your average American does not think like this. They shell out the money for college and take the risk because they believe it will pay off in career opportunities. Now that that’s no longer the case, we have a lost generation.”

                  Well righting, friend John.

          4. Adam Eran

            Education is a way of life. Training is preparation for a career.

            …and management is a liberal art, not a science (see Matthew Stewart’s The Management Myth)

  6. katiebird

    I have a dumb question…. Every source I’ve found gives the WV Primary results as Sanders 51% / Clinton 36% …. Isn’t that off by 13% ? I went to the WV Election site but the page doesn’t work on by tablet.

    I have a horrible headache so forgive me if I’ve missed something obvious

        1. Vatch

          In the Presidential primary election, it would appear that 12.6% (29,789) of the Democratic voters either left their vote blank, or wrote in someone’s name.

          Oh, I just saw Steve H.’s message. Many of those votes were for Paul Farrell.

        2. Benedict@Large

          West Virginia has several active minor parties that regularly siphon off considerable numbers of votes.

    1. flora

      Wapo gives a breakdown of the results for the GOP and Dem primary. On the Dem side Wapo lists “Other” as receiving 12.7% of the vote. Could be write-ins. So your math is correct.

      1. katiebird

        This is just what I wanted to see!! Thank you so much.

        I think it is really odd that the other numbers are so widely reported with no explanation. And that 5% for an unknown is also interesting

        1. PlutoniumKun

          From what I’ve read, Farrell is a pro-coal candidate, who got himself on the ballot to protest at the Dems abandoning coal miners.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        There are actually voters who want neither Sanders nor Clinton.

  7. rich

    Sam Wyly Committed Tax Fraud With Offshore Trusts, Judge Says

    The judge had little patience for Sam Wyly’s defense.

    “To accept the Wylys’ explanation requires the court to be satisfied that it is appropriate for extraordinarily wealthy individuals to hire middlemen to do their bidding in order to insulate themselves from wrongdoing so that, when the fraud is ultimately exposed, they have plausible deniability,” Houser said in her 459-page ruling.
    Too Complicated

    The judge, however, did rule that Dee Wyly didn’t participate in any fraud.

    “There is simply no persuasive evidence in the record that Dee understood how these very complicated estate planning transactions worked,” Houser said.

    Stewart Thomas, general counsel for the Wylys, said they were pleased with the ruling on Dee, as well as the court’s rejection of an IRS gift-tax claim, but “they are surprised and disagree with the court’s fraud finding as to Sam and his brother Charles.”

    The IRS was seeking $1.4 billion from Sam Wyly and $834 million from his sister-in-law, with penalties and interest accounting for 80 percent of the totals, the government said in court papers filed Jan. 25.


  8. MtnLife

    Forgive my ignorance, maybe it is just too much Trump in the news, but is Men’s Trait an intentional homophone? I couldn’t seem to find an About section and the “i” in trait is dotted red – not the period after, which would have fully tripped my snark detector.

  9. hemeantwell

    Russia poised to unleash ‘Son of Satan’ ICBM The Register (Dr. Kevin)

    I urge caution airing this type of story. The US was the first country to MIRV its ICBMs, the Russians followed suit. The only thing new about this ICBM appears to be some form of self-defense, which the Russians might figure is necessary to make its effectiveness plausible given that NATO is gradually ringing Russia with ABMs. The Register used to be interesting for speculation on the computer industry. Here they are simply fueling Cold War revivalism.

    Here’s a to Wikipedia on MIRVS, and nb how it stresses their destabilizing impact. The US is now doing that with its trillion dollar “nuclear warhead modernization plan.”

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t think its any more than a straight report on a new updated ICBM. I’m no expert on the SALT treaties, but I think like for like updating of ICBMs is acceptable. Its especially important for the Russians, as their liquid fuels rockets are likely to to last a shorter time in storage due to corrosion – the solid rocket propellants of US ICBMs are more chemically stable.

      1. Cry Shop

        Liquid fuel rockets often have a slower response time to launch as well. Even if kept fueled, it takes time to spin up the turbo-pumps, etc. If the US is moving tactical nuclear weapons closer to Russia, then a quicker response time to get a launch before a first strike lands becomes keys.

        What the US is doing by reducing the latency for a Russian response to any perceived first strike is making a nuclear war more likely. In “The Limits Of Safety” Professor Sagan reports several near launches of nuclear strikes by the USA, which if there was not a a significant latency to allow for “adults” to recognize the software errors, radar malfunctions, etc; we’d not be having this discussion.

        Russia has been the mature adult member of the two starting from seeing how the US viewed a nuclear war as potentially winnable during the Cuban Crisis. Since that time, they have purposefully avoided putting their submarine based nuclear weapons in any position from which they could potentially launch a first strike, as well as declaring a no first strike policy. In good part this is to give the latency to avoid a mistake such as the USA has come several times very close to making, and would have made with less time to consider.

        The USA on the other hand not only has never given any pledge not to use nuclear weapons first (against Russia) or even non-nuclear states, the USA has staged nuclear armed cruise and ballistic missile carrying submarines with in 200 km of Russia. If Russia doesn’t take steps to discourage the US DOD from believing in the near infallibility of the ABM platforms, then it would actually encourage a future Hill-Billy, Trump or Barry ‘I’m really good at killing people’ with Missiles Obama to start WWIII. Can Russia, will Russia wait and reconfirm in this situation, like the Russian submarine comander did when depthchared by the USN during the Cuban Crisis?

        1. inode_buddha

          “…they have purposefully avoided putting their submarine based nuclear weapons in any position from which they could potentially launch a first strike, …”

          This is absolutely false. Sorry, but (for my own protection) I can’t give sources.

          1. Cry Shop

            First Strike isn’t First Launch – the later is pure suicide.

            First Strike means positioning enough power to take out the enemies ability to mount an effective counter-strike. ie: an occasional transit by one submarine isn’t First Strike capacity, and unless you have other information, which I very much doubt, then you don’t know what your talking about.

            1. inode_buddha

              You can doubt all you want to — I’m not going to take it personally, nor will it change anything I know.

        2. Bill Smith

          Is the US moving nuclear warheads closer to Russia? Where?

          “In 1993, Russia dropped a pledge given by the former Soviet Union not to use nuclear weapons first.[3] In 2000, a Russian military doctrine stated that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons “in response to a large-scale conventional aggression”.

          From here:

          1. Cry Shop

            Seriously, your using the NYT as a reliable source on NakedCapital? Are you a newby?


            and compare the following transparency with the NATO policy




            It’s old news that Russia is hardly in the position to effect a First Strike, much less promise it, what this is about is securing some effective retaliatory ability.

            As to moving weapons, where have you been? Already done and further Obama wants to upgrade and put even more tactical first strike capacity in Europe, to the tune of Billions of dollars>

            1. Bill Smith

              “As to moving weapons, where have you been” Got a link for the nuclear weapons you are talking about?

              There is more than one link in the Wiki article.

              And at your link here: “the new doctrine grants Putin and Russia wide latitude in when to use nuclear weapons against NATO and the U.S.”

              Goes to RT which says this:


              “One can experiment as long as one wishes by deploying non-nuclear warheads on strategic missile carriers. But one should keep in mind that if there is an attack against us, we will certainly resort to using nuclear weapons in certain situations to defend our territory and state interests”

              1. Cry Shop

                Bill, you mean that, last week, is setting US policy, or the Pentagon is the instrument for Civilian Control?

                If you’d bother to read the links I posted earlier, you’d see that Putin put the man firmly in his place. Watch out for confirmational bias. I can do no more for you in the limited time I have. Post what you want, I won’t be responding anymore as there isn’t anything new in this issue that you could possibly discover if Wikipedia is a prime source.

              2. JTMcPhee

                Hey, Bill — maybe this is just another Leftist source, but this German-language original, the link being the translation, might be of interest to anyone who might be skeptical of your US Exceptionalist tenacity, and the “where’s your proof” challenge, artfully worded as to “Is the US [military] moving nuclear warheads closer to Russia? Where?,” bearing in mind that these warheads are largely on ballistic missiles with transit times on target on the order of minutes, so “closer” is a really relative term, no? :


                And there’s this little article that ought to give us all better sleep too:

        3. Ranger Rick

          Russia, the mature half of the atomic stalemate? And they had no close calls with their nuclear weapons? That’s a good one.

          The Soviets themselves had several close calls: the B-59 submarine, Serpukhov-15, Able Archer…

    2. Bill Smith

      What does “MIRVS” have to do with the “nuclear warhead modernization plan? Is the US going to add more warheads to the Minutemen and Trident missiles?

      1. Cry Shop

        I can’t educate you if you want to jump in on a topic that you don’t know much about. It’s not the thing that can be done in a blog chat. Do a bit of research on it first, there are handy tools and if you do the work yourself, your more likely to have confidence in it.

    3. Gravity's Rainbow

      Could be Russian Federation white propaganda. When running the countervalue and counterforce permutations of MAD during the Cold War, the Soviets realized that liquid-fueled rockets were not mobile, and therefore vulnerable to the NATO’s first counterforce strikes. The logic became all liquid-fueled rockets, must be launched immediately, whether they were for countervalue or counterforce targets, lest they be destroyed [countered] in a first strike. “Use’em or lose’em.” The Russian Federation is sending a message that they are still capable of obliterating every NATO country on move #1. No warning, no escalations, no room for missteps. Russia is still fighting in Ukraine, dredging up paranoia from the Great War.

  10. Cry "Shop!"

    Turkey’s Border Guards Are Killing Refugees — Human Rights Watch EA WorldView
    Shooting to Kill Immigrants on the Mexican Border
    Obama and Erdogan: Same, same, no?

    Russia poised to unleash ‘Son of Satan’ ICBM
    I like the secondary headline, Hello RS-28 Sarmat, Goodbye Texas. So much potential for good, so much promise.

  11. uahsenaa

    So I read the Asahi Shinbun article about the Obama visit, and while most of it simply relates what the WH press secretary said (in translation, obv), a few statements at the end stood out. For reference, if you speak the J:

    First, there’s a response to a question about whether the President will meet with hibakusha while in Hiroshima, that he doesn’t know if there will be time to fit it into the schedule.

    Then there’s the paragraph about the American justification for the bombing, which is phrased in a characteristically Japanese way: “[w]ithin the United States, the opinion that justifies the atomic bombing on the grounds that it brought a swift end to the war and saved many American lives is deeply rooted.”

    Apologies for the translation-ese, but the wording is important. It’s a common way of saying things–“there is the opinion that says…”–in journalistic discourse for the reason that it brings a contentious issue to bear without attributing that contention to any particular individual or institution. It’s intentionally diplomatic in that way that Japanese permits so readily, where you neither know nor don’t know what is what, even as it’s insinuated.

    You could call it quantum diplomacy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will Obama visit Fukushima as well?

      The other Man-Made nuclear disaster.

      “We apologize to all marine lifeforms who have died, are dying, have suffered, or are suffering from man’s belief in nuclear power.”

  12. Eureka Springs

    Apologies if this has been posted in links or water cooler before. But this should be a game changer. Perhaps the State departments “loss” of emails between Hillary and her server manager among other deletions are not “lost” after all.

    A Connecticut company, which backed up Hillary Clinton‘s emails at the request of a Colorado firm, apparently surprised her aides by storing the emails on a “cloud” storage system designed to optimize data recovery.

    The firm, Datto Inc., said Wednesday that it turned over the contents of its storage to the FBI on Tuesday.

    1. Jim Haygood

      … and she’s gone.

      Four years of emails can’t go missing from a secure gov’t system, absent MIHOP [Make It Happen On Purpose].

      If Bryan Pagliano wiped his own email archives, it’s because one of his frequent correspondents told him to.

      Now we’re gonna find out what was so sensitive in those vacuumed files.

      As long-time observers know, disappearing documents has been Hillary Milhous Clinton’s criminal modus operandi ever since Travelgate in 1993.

      She learned it at the feet of her mentor, Tricky Dick. :-)

      1. Jim Haygood

        This quote has the same ring as “I never had sex with that woman” —

        ‘You have a cloud? You were told not to have a cloud. We never received an invoice for any cloud.”

        Perfect campaign jingle! Where can I buy the T-shirt?

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Jonathan Turley has a good recap of why the non classification of secrecy in Clinton’s emails is so weak an excuse. Among other things, how could they be marked as classified if she didn’t classify them? But Turley also points out that she signed an agreement called the,

      “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement,” or SF-312, which states that “classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications.”

      which clearly explains that there is a presumption of secrecy, called presumtive classification, in any and all documents coming from Clinton’s position as Secretary of State.

      This is not news to NC readers, but Turley does a good job of explaining it. He also points out that the FBI has NOT said this is not a criminal investigation.

    1. RP

      Sanders in June or Trump in November. HRC unelectable in a general election where pesky independents (43% of electorate) allowed to vote.

      Choose wisely, democrats.

  13. ScottW

    “Released Emails Show Use of Unclassified Systems Was Routine” The NYT’s headline feeds the Hillary supporters’ claim–she didn’t do anything wrong because everyone did it.

    Aside from this childish excuse, the headline is misleading because the system “routinely” being used for classified email was still part of the State Dept. email system. Apparently, they have different systems they use for different levels of classified documents. But the email servers were controlled by the government, as opposed to Hillary’s private system.

    Hillary is the only government employee in history who exclusively used a home basement private email server. Period. The difference between what other employees did is that Hillary, not the State Dept., could control which documents were deleted and/or subject to release. The Sec. of State is not the final decision maker in determining which documents are subject to release under FOIA and which are private.

    As for the Post article about Cheryl Mills walking out and then back in on her FBI interview–note the anonymous leaks that state their is “scant” evidence of criminal conduct. What does “scant” mean? Yet another example of how leaks are made when beneficial to the government employee. Self-serving much?

    Finally, Mills being able to define the parameters of the criminal interview exemplifies the special treatment given the elite. Apparently, it was out of bounds to ask Mills how Hillary and her team decided which public emails to release to the State Dept. The only reason this is even an issue is because Hillary kept all of her public emails on a private server, so the State Dept. had no access to decide for itself what was public and private. Talk about another double standard. Her attorney should never have been involved in deciding public v. private emails in the first place and that whole exercise should be considered unlawful. Did her attorney even have a security clearance?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will Obama apologize for Obamacare?

      It seems no one, Hillary, Sanders or Trump, is for keeping it.

  14. Bev

    “Hillary Clinton Gives U.F.O. Buffs Hope She Will Open the X-Files – (Will She Admit to Being an Alien?) New York Times (David L). Yes, this is not The Onion.”

    How about opening a “Why” File on the tossed 90,000 affidavit ballots now. Were they and others paid to do that?^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

    Lee Camp [Redacted] Verified account ‏@LeeCamp

    The Elections Board was paid MILLIONS before the NY Primary??, Hillary’s new money laundering, and much more……

    And, about the “x” files. Carl Sagan had the highest security clearances and highest motivation and was determined to find any evidence of extraterrestrial life during his government tenure during the Clinton years. So, Hillary would also know what Carl found…there was nothing.

    As Carl said the biggest claims need the biggest evidence-paraphrased. The explanation that finally makes sense of all the hubbub with no evidence is this:

    It was the time of Sputnik, and our government and military were scared witless. The crashed advanced alien capture was an encouraged story to try to convince the Russians not to attack a technologically backward U.S., by suggesting we had leapfrogged them so that they were the technologically backward nation. There. You are welcome.

    Now all of you who were so looking forward to “the alien” story are potentially very interested in real science, which is even better than science fiction, and can discard pseudo science which has no evidence. You are now redirected to reality, science, and the need for real evidence.

    This is very helpful as regards are current problems with primaries that have those evidence missing/hidden e-voting, e-scanning machines owned by the extreme, abusive right wing giving us the “f” files of election Fraud.

    Open caucuses with real evidence of public hand/head counts and hand counted paper ballots precincts have Bernie Sanders winning at around 65%. The no evidence, hidden evidence voting machines have Bernie losing at around 41%. People you need to get smart faster, though many of you already are.

    Tim Robbins: We Need to Fix Our Broken Election System
    Richard Charnin

    Tim Robbins, a fine actor and dedicated progressive activist, wrote this article in the Huffington Post. We need more of his kind.

    In comments:

    How appropriate, from the star of the Divergent movies:

    Shailene Woodley Verified account @shailenewoodley Apr 26
    Shailene Woodley Retweeted Lee Camp [Redacted]
    #ExitPollGate #FeelTheBern buckle yer bootstraps ladies and gents. our work is just beginning.
    Shailene Woodley added,
    Lee Camp [Redacted] @LeeCamp
    #Bernie supporters – let’s get #ExitPollGate to trend on Twitter! The exit polls show election fraud. #BernieOrBust

  15. portia

    is all this stuff about sailing warships near China reef and scare about Russian ICBMs part of the continuing U.S. war on BRICS (along with the Brazil soft coup)?

  16. JSM

    Re: ‘Released Emails Show Use of Unclassified Systems Was Routine.’

    The NYT appears to be continuing to try to minimize Clinton’s private email server while purportedly offering ‘news.’ Put this in the bin with ‘Colin Powell had AOL Account,’ and ‘Condi Rice Did Too.’ The difference is that only Clinton committed multiple felonies.

    Re: ‘Did the New York Times just accidentally tell the truth about the Obama administration?’

    Not exactly, although the article makes many important points. The NYT admitted that it was Pravda under GWB & is still Pravda under Obama. It would still be Pravda under Trump because the present situation demands (to the fundamentally nonpartisan PTB) well-coordinated blanket propaganda.

    This is the paper that sold the Iraq War, passed on warrantless wiretapping, passed on the Snowden documents, passed on the Panama Papers, will under no circumstances discuss electoral fraud and avoids if possible all mention of wealth inequality etc., etc.

  17. flora

    re: “Alert: The European Financial Dictatorship seriously threatens France”

    Hollande defended his labor law action, (I think , correct me if I’m wrong,) as necessary to bring down French unemployment, now at 10%. The real US unemployment rate is about 10% when discouraged workers and those only working a few hours a week are added in. Corporations get almost everything they want in labor law in the US. Hasn’t helped US real unemployment rates. So, does Hollande know exactly what he’s doing?

    Thanks for the link.

    1. B1whois

      From a well-organized and informative article about the “up all night” protest movement:
      “Yet there is little reason to think that the government’s latest labor law reform will do much to boost job growth, especially in the short term. How could reforms that make it easier for employers to force their employees to work longer hours, and allow them to fire workers whenever they wish, increase the employment rate?”

      1. flora

        Great link. Thanks for the info.

        “Unsurprisingly, in the two months since the bill was announced, the Socialist Party has been steadily hemorrhaging members, Meanwhile, the government has succeeded in alienating many of its former allies”

        “The fallout from the bill has thus exacerbated the decline in public support for the government. Surveys show that President Hollande’s approval ratings, already at historic lows before February, have now dropped to just 15 percent. “

  18. NeqNeq

    Re: antidote

    Its always nice to catch glimpses of hatchings and pups/cubs. It warms my bones to know that spring has sprung and summer draws ever closer.

    Even here at NC we start to see the spectacular displays of the Greater Comment Section Peacock. While some dismiss the animal as an invasive species, I find beauty in the contrast of its witty, snark toned plumage with the garishness of its “You dont know what your talking about and my narrative is less-wrong!” territorial honk.


  19. Plenue

    I just want to point out for anyone who thinks that the dropping of the bombs was needed as a demonstration of power to force a surrender that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very much civilian targets. Hiroshima in fact had a military base with 20,000 personnel, but the bomb was intentionally dropped and detonated over the city center. The base and its personnel came out in much better condition than the rest of the city. Nagasaki was a large sea port with lots of industrial facilities, not really of much use given that the Japanese no longer had control of the sea, and in a bit of double irony, had not only been the hub of Japanese Christianity for centuries, but the bomb drifted a mile from its intended detonation point (again, the city center, not a military base or the industrial facilities later claimed as the intended targets) and blew up right over the Christian Cathedral. And the backup target for both the first bomb and the primary target for the second (it was obscured by smoke from the firebombing of Yahata and the plane diverted to Nagasaki instead) was Kokura (population 130,000), a castle town that might have been a military asset 500 years ago, but can’t be called anything but civilian by 1945. These cities were chosen because they were targets that promised to yield massive body counts. They were picked because of the chance of maximized murder. If all that was needed was a show of force they could have made a big splash in Tokyo Bay, or at least targeted a large military installation. The bombings were instead deliberately aimed to kill as many civilians as possible. This is demonstrably fact; despite decades of bullshit about Hiroshima and Nagasaki being legitimate military targets the hard facts are that such military and industrial assets as both cities had were not what the bombs were actually aimed at. On those grounds alone the atomic bombings are just as much crimes against humanity as the conventional firebombings of Japan and cases like the bombing of Dresden. And yes, those were war-crimes as well. If the deliberate targeting of civilians is a crime when the Axis does it, it’s a crime when anyone does it. Period.

    You don’t incinerate tens of thousands of women, children, and old men and claim you’re the good guy and that it was ‘justified’. You don’t get to do that, not on my watch.

    1. Skippy

      As with Dresden et al…. it was basically about – do you really want to screw around with “crazy people” with no morals or ethics – in the long run ….

      Especially when we can validate such methodology – empirically – with Nash’es and McNamara’s mathematical proofs…

      Disheveled Marsupial…. just ignore the strange philosophy or vulgar social psychology converted into maths…. just observe the models as religious iconography….

  20. David Mills

    Thread for Hiroshima apology got too long, sorry for restarting.

    There was NO military necessity in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. Don’t want to get into the deterrent element with the Soviets or the racism hairball. Simply put, McCollum Memo.

    Mic Drop, David Mills Out.

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