Why Truman Bombed Hiroshima

By Bruce Lee
excerpts from the Wall Street Journal

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The Magic summaries and the Ultra intercepts of German communications) were one of the key reasons that the Allies were able to foil the Axis plans of world domination. Only six Americans were authorized to read these intercepts. Of these six men, only one was elected. That was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he did not see, nor did he read, everything. The other policy-making recipients of Magic were: Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, the chief of naval operations (the last being Adm. E.J. King) and Gen. George Marshall, the Army chief of staff. The most important of these decision makers was Gen. Marshall.


Marshall also knew prior to the February 1945 Yalta Conference that Russia would break its nonaggression pact with Japan and attack Manchuria about 90 days after the surrender of Germany (V-E Day). The Magic Summaries documented the shift of Soviet troops by rail from Europe to the Far East for this purpose. Because of a major intelligence failure, Marshall also believed that the Japanese had maintained their troop strength In Manchuria and were capable to resisting a Soviet Attack. But Tokyo had secretly brought back many of its troops from Manchuria to defend the home islands of Japan from an American invasion, leaving Manchuria and Korea easy prey for the Russians.

Marshall also knew from the Magic decrypts that the Japanese home islands were to be defended from invasion and occupation by 2.3 million troops, another four million Army and Navy employees and a newly created armed militia numbering 25 million. These defenders were sworn to fight to the death, which so many Japanese troops had done in battles throughout the Pacific.

To effectively invade and occupy Japan, American strategists foresaw two invasions, scheduled for November 1945 and March 1946. The first invasion, on the island of Kyushu. would employ some 770,000 American troops. The follow-up invasion on the plains of Tokyo, leading to the forced occupation of Japan, called for two million American troops.

This brings us to the heart of the Enola Gay argument made by revisionist historians who claim

(1) that President Truman either invented after the fact high invasion casualty estimates to provide moral and political justification for the use of atomic weapons; or
(2) that Truman was never told about potentially high invasion casualties; or
(3) that archival documentation for pre-invasion casualty estimates does not exist; or
(4) that the pre-invasion estimates were minuscule.

But according to documents I have uncovered, a conference to discuss pre-invasion casualties was held at the White House on June 18, 1945, between President Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. From the Pacific, Gen. Douglas MacArthur submitted rather optimistic casualty estimates. This caused Adm. William D. Leahy, Truman's military advisor, to take charge of the session. Based on the experience at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Leahy predicted that in an invasion of Japan, 30% to 35% of U.S. soldiers would be killed or wounded during the first 30 days. Truman obviously understood what Leahy said. The president remarked that the invasion would create another Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other. The Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed.

Suddenly, and only after being advised about the buildup of Japanese forces and fortifications by Magic intelligence, MacArthur medical staff revised its pre-invasion needs for hospital beds upwards by 300%. MacArthur's chief surgeon, Brig. Gen. Guy Denit, estimated that a 120-day campaign to invade and occupy only the island of Kyushu would result in 395,000 casualties.

Marshall then learned from the Magic Summaries, just before the Potsdam Conference convened on July 17, 1945, about behind-the-scenes negotiations between Japan and the Soviet Union. From June 3-14, 1945, Koki Hirota, a Japanese envoy with Emperor Hirohito's blessing, had met with the Russian ambassador to Tokyo to propose a new relationship between the two countries. Japan proposed to carve up Asia with the USSR . According to the Magic Diplomatic Summaries of July 3, 1945, Hirota told the Russian ambassador: "Japan will increase her naval strength in the future, and that, together with the Russian Army, would make a force unequaled in the world...." The Magic Summaries further revealed that throughout June and July 1945, Japan's militarist leaders were adamantly determined that they would never surrender unconditionally to the British and the Americans.

On July 4, 1945, the British agree to the use of the atomic bomb against Japan. On July 16, during the Potsdam Conference, the first A-bomb was successfully tested. A way had been found to end the war quickly and decisively. This was the situation on July 26 when the U.S., Britain and China issued the Potsdam Declaration to Japan to surrender unconditionally, "The alternative," said the declaration, "is complete and utter destruction."

On July 25, Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki announced to the Japanese press that the Potsdnm declaration was to be Ignored." Meanwhile, the Magic Summaries revealed that Tokyo was demanding that Moscow accept a special envoy from Emperor Hirohito, presumably to cement the deal offering to divide Asia between Japan and Russia while Moscow brokered a Japanese surrender with the U.S. and Britain that would be acceptable to Tokyo.

This is what the Americans President Truman, Secretary of War Stimson and Gen. Marshall knew the day before the first atom bomb fell on Japan. Confronted by an enemy leadership that was self-deluded, neither prepared to surrender nor to negotiate seriously, the Americans decided that the only way to end the war quickly would be to use overwhelming force: nuclear weapons.

Two bombs were dropped. The Russians invaded Manchuria. On August 10, Emperor Hirohito overruled his militarist advisors and accepted the Potsdam declaration. Japan surrendered.

Propaganda Campaign

But the Americans continued to read the Japanese codes. Almost immediately; the Magic Summaries revealed that the new foreign minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, had begun a world-wide propaganda campaign to brand the Americans as war criminals for using nuclear weapons. Tokyo's goals included keeping Emperor Hirohito from being tried for instigating a war of aggression, and diverting Western attention away from the many Japanese atrocities committed since the start of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937. "Since the Americans have recently been raising an uproar about the question of our mistreatment of prisoners [of war],'' Shigemitsu instructed his diplomats in the Sept. 15, 1945, Magic Summary, "I think we should make every effort to exploit the atomic bomb question in our propaganda. That propaganda campaign has borne its final fruit in the revisionist account of the bombing of Japan.

Yet the evidence is crystal clear. The use of nuclear weapons to end World War II quickly and decisively averted the death or maiming of hundreds of thousands American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. It also saved the lives of some 400,000 Allied prisoners of war and civilian detainees in Japanese hands, all of whom were to be executed in the event of an American invasion of Japan. Above all, it saved untold hundreds of thousands more Japanese-perhaps millions-from becoming casualties of pre-invasion bombing and shelling, followed by two invasions and forcible occupation.

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