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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

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COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: August 1, 1945 (X Minus 5 Days)

Sixty-six years ago, at the end of July and early August, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting July 25, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film’s suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (For more, including video, see my personal blog and major new article at Japan Focus.)

On this day in 1945:

—Truman wrote a letter to his wife Bess last night talking about the atomic bomb (but without revealing it): “He [Stalin] doesn’t know it but I have an ace in the hole and another one showing—so unless he has threes or two pair (and I know he has not) we are sitting all right.”  And today he gives a letter to Stalin, which confounds him.  Earlier, Stalin had promised to declare war  on Japan around August 7.  Now Truman writes that more consultation is needed.  Truman had pushed for the entry, writing in his diary "fini Japs" when that occurred, even without use of The Bomb.  Now that he has the bomb in his "pocket" he apparently hopes to stall the Soviets.

--Truman has also approved statement on the use of the bomb, brought to him last night in Germany by a courier, drafted by Secretary of War Stimson and others, and ordered it released after first drop. A line near the start has been added explictly depicting the vast city of Hiroshima as a “military base.” The president, and the drafters of the statement, knew was false. An earlier draft described the city of Nagasaki as a “naval base” and nothing more. There would be no reference to radiation effects whatsoever—it was just a vastly bigger bomb. (See my July 30 entry for more text.)

—The Potsdam conference ended early this morning, with Truman expected to head back to the US by sea tomorrow.

—The “Little Boy” atomic bomb is now ready for use on the island of Tinian. Under the direction of the lead pilot, Paul Tibbetts, practice runs have been completed, near Iwo Jima, and fake payloads dropped, with success. Truman’s order had given the okay for the first mission later this day and it might have happened if a typhoon, of a different sort, was not approaching Japan.

—Stimson writes in his diary about decision today to release, with Truman’s coming statement on the use of the bomb, a 200-page report on the building of the bomb, revised to not give too much away. Here he explains why they will release it at all: “The aim of the paper is to backfire reckless statements by independent scientists after the demonstration of the bomb. If we could be sure that these could be controlled and avoided, all of us would much prefer not to issue such a paper. But under the circumstances of the entire independence of action of scientists and the certainty that there would be a tremendous amount of excitement and reckless statement, Groves, who is a very conservative man, had reached the conclusion that the lesser evil would be for us to make a statement carefully prepared so as not to give away anything vital and thus try to take the stage away from the others.”

-Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

MurdochGate: Blogging RupertGate for Monday, August 1

A new blog with frequent updates, with the latest at the top, much like my long-running WikiLeaks News & Views blog. My Nation associate Kevin Donohoe is helping out mightily with links, as is Barbara Bedway. Speaking of scandal, see my new book Atomic Cover-Up just out , in print and as e-book.

12:20 AdWeek: Nick Davies of the Guardian arrives in New York today “in pursuit of hacking-type practices that might have been carried out on U.S. soil by Murdoch’s U.S. reporters, by his U.K. reporters working in the U.S., or by private detectives hired by News Corp.”

12:05 Keith Olbermann has a new piece at the Guardian on why Murdoch fired him after running a story about the then-Murdoch-owned LA Dodgers on Fox Sports News.

11:55 Police have expanded their investigation of News of the World to allegations of computer hacking.

11:30 Technology firm HCL tells the home affairs select committee that it has been involved with the deletion of hundreds of thousands of e-mails at the request of News Corp. during the past fifteen months.

11:15 Media Matters tackles yet another WSJ piece running interference for Murdoch and legal issues.

10:00 In case you “may” have missed it, yes, Fox News’s weekend media watch program once again backed Murdoch to the hilt on the scandal (“everyone in UK hacked” etc.).

12:05 Frank Rich: Lengthy piece on Murdoch—and the two times in Frank’s career when he considered hiring security. “Murdoch Hacked Us, Too,” on this side of the pond.

Countdown to Hiroshima: July 30, 1945 (X Minus 7 Days)

Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting Monday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film’s suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (For more, including video, see my personal blog.)

On this day in 1945:

—Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, now back at the Pentagon, cabled President Truman, still in Potsdam, that he had drafted a statement for the president that would follow the first use of the new weapon—and Truman must urgently review it because the bomb could be used as early as August 1. Stimson sent one of his aides to Germany with two copies of the statement. The Top Secret, six-page typed statement opened: “__ hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on ____ and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT…. It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe.”

In his diary, Stimson noted that at the end he had put more “pep” into the document to make it more “dramatic.” Later, as we will see, the claim that Hiroshima was merely “a military base” was added later to the draft.

—After scientists sifted more data from the July 16 Trinity test of the first weapon, Gen. Leslie R. Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project provided Gen. George Marshall, our top commander, with more detail on the destructive power of atomic weapons. Amazingly, despite the new evidence, Groves recommended that troops could move into the “immediate explosion area” within a half hour,” although this would not be an issue in the first use against Japan. Groves also provided the schedule for the delivery of the weapons: the components of the gun-type bomb to be used on Hiroshima had arrived on Tinian, while the parts of the second plutonium weapon to be dropped were leaving San Francisco. By the end of November more than ten weapons would be available, in the event the war had continued.

—Groves faced a new problem, however. Gen. “Tooey” Spaatz on Guam urgently cabled that sources suggested that there was an Allied prisoner of war camp in Nagasaki just a mile north of the center of the city. Should it remain on the target list?” Groves, who had already dropped Kyoto from the list after Stimson had protested (it was just too beautiful and culturally important), refused to shift. In another cable Spaatz revealed that there were no POW camps in Hiroshima, or so they believed. This firmed up Groves’s position that Hiroshima should “be given top priority,” weather permitting. As it turned out, POWs died in both cities from the bombing.

—Truman’s diary today had no mention of the bomb but he did write: “If Stalin should suddenly cash in it would end the original Big Three. First Roosevelt by death, then Churchill by political failure and then Stalin. I am wondering what would happen to Russia and central Europe if Joe suddenly passed out. If some demagogue on horse back gained control of the efficient Russian military machine he could play havoc with European peace for a while.”

-Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Countdown to Hiroshima: July 29, 1945 (X Minus 8 Days)

Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting Monday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film’s suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. (For more, including video, see my personal blog.)

On this day in 1945:

—Truman wrote letter to wife Bess from Potsdam on deals there (but does not mention A-bomb discussions with Soviets): “I like Stalin. He is straightforward, knows what he wants and will compromise when he can’t get it. His Foreign Minister isn’t so forthright.“ Truman casually informed Stalin about the atomic bomb but no one is quite certain that the latter understood.

—Japanese sub sinks the U.S.S. Indianapolis, killing over 800 American seamen. If it had happened three days earlier, the atomic bomb the ship was carrying to Tinian would have never made it.

—A Newsweek story observes: “As Allied air and sea attacks hammered the stricken homeland, Japan’s leaders assessed the war situation and found it bordering on the disastrous…. As usual, the nation’s propaganda media spewed out brave doube-talk of hope and defiance.” But it adds: “Behind the curtain, Japan had put forward at least one definite offer. Fearing the results of Russian participation in the war, Tokyo transmitted to Generaliissimo Stalin the broad terms on which it professed willingness to settle all scores.”

—Assembling of the first atomic bomb continued at Tinian. It would likely be ready on August 1 and the first use would be dictated by the weather.

—The second bomb—the plutonium device—was still back in the States. The target list, with Hiroshima as #1, remained in place, although it was being studied for the presence of POW camps holding Americans in the target sities.

—Secretary of War Stimson began work on the statement on the first use of the bomb that President Truman would record or release in a few days, assuming the bomb worked.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

 

Murdoch Watch: Blogging RupertGate, for Friday

A new blog with frequent updates, with the latest at the top, much like my long-running WikiLeaks News & Views blog. My Nation associate Kevin Donohoe is helping out mightily with links, as is Barbara Bedway. Speaking of scandal, see my new book Atomic Cover-Up just out , in print and as e-book.

3:55 NYT: Letter from 2007 getting added scrutiny, re: liability of top editors, including Coulson—and charges of police bribery.

3:45 Updates on PM Cameron in growng trouble over Andy Coulson, MP mensch apologizes to Piers Morgan, mother of dead girl getting mad, and much more.

1:30 Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the center of the phone hacking scandal, said that he only ever acted on instructions from his employers. Big deal especially after yesterday’s revelations that Mulcaire may have hacked the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of a murdered 8-year-old and Rebekah Brooks ally.

10:40 The Atlantic Wire picks this week’s RupertGate winners and losers.

10:35 Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff tells Reuters that “the Murdochs have to and will step out of not only day-to-day running, but they won’t have jobs within the country” within sixty days.

10:30 News Corp is seeking to placate investors with a $1 billion buyback and dividend.

10:25 The Daily Telegraph reports that Baroness Buscombe has announced that she will step down as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, “following growing criticism of the watchdog in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.”

9:10 Some good updates at the Guardian blog: James Murdoch may be called back by MPs to testify. More on the hacking of the dead girl’s mom’s phone. Piers Morgan redux. And stuff I didn’t know about Louise Mensch, MP who gave Murdoch a hard time, including her past at EMI and her writing of “chick-lit” novels under a pen name.

8:30 Comic who tried to throw foam pie at Murdoch found guilty of assault and harassment in court. Emerges citing Rupert’s line, “This is the most humble day of my life.” Humble pie?

From late Thursday

James Murdoch gets unanimous backing from Sky board to remain as boss.

NYT catches up to big story out of UK today (see below) on mother of dead girl being given hacked phone by Rebekah Brooks. “The tabloid at the center of the scandal, The News of the World, had championed the campaign of the grieving mother, Sara Payne, for a law warning parents if child sex offenders lived nearby, and she had written warmly of the paper in its final edition, calling it ‘an old friend.’ A statement released on behalf of Mrs. Payne by the Phoenix Foundation, a charity she worked with, described her as devastated and disappointed.”

Apparently a false new report circulating that CNN has suspended Piers Morgan for role in hacking years ago.

Guardian: Good old Rebekah Brooks gave a cell phone to mother of dead child (potentially allowing for easier access to messages?)

Judge suggests case is expanding—so could drag on for a year or more.

Piers Morgan continues to deny hacking claims.

Former NOTW staffers looking for work even in… Siberia.

COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: July 28, 1945 (X Minus 9 Days)

Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting Monday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.  (For more, including video, see my personal blog)

On this day in 1945:

--Two days after receiving word, the Japanese leadership formally rejected the Potsdam declaration calling for their "unconditional" surrender, or seemed to.  The official word was that it would ignore the demand  mokusatsu,  or "with silence."  Another translation, however,  is "to withhold comment." This not-quite-rejection has led some historians to suggest that the U.S. should have pursued the confusing Japanese peace feelers already circulating, especially with suggestions that unconditional terms were the main, or perhaps only, obstacles.

--Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal had breakfast with Truman at Potsdam  He had flown there at least partly to press the president to pursue Japanese peace feelers--especially concerning letting them keep their emperor-- before using the bomb and killing countless civilians.

--Returning to Washington from Potsdam, Secretary of War Henry Stimson consulted with the top people at Los Alamos about the bomb (or "S-!" as it was then known) and wrote in his diary. "Everything seems to be going well."

--U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Joseph Davies wrote in his diary that Secretary of State James Byrnes was overly excited by the success of the bomb test vis-a-vis future relations with our allies, the Soviets:  "Byrnes' attitude that the atomic bomb assured ultimate success in negotiations disturbed me more than his description of its success amazed me. I told him the threat wouldn't work, and might do irreparable harm."  Four days earlier, Byrnes aide Walter Brown had written in his diary that Byrnes' view was that "after atomic bomb Japan will surrender and Russia will not get in so much on the kill."  The Soviets were scheduled to enter the war on August 7, so there was some urgency. 

--A U.S. bombing raid on the small Japanese city of Aomori -- which had little military significance beyond being a transportation hub -- dropped 83,000 incendiaries and destroyed almost the entire city, killing at least 2,000 civilians.

--In other news, the U.S. Senate ratifie the United Nations charter by a vote of 89-2.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.

Murdoch Watch: Blogging RupertGate, for Thursday

A new blog with frequent updates, with the latest at the top, much like my long-running WikiLeaks News & Views blog. My Nation associate Kevin Donohoe is helping out mightily with links, as is Barbara Bedway. Speaking of scandal, see my new book Atomic Cover-Up just out , in print and as e-book.

7:00  James Murdoch gets unanimous backing from Sky board to remain as boss.

2:00 NYT catches up to big story out of UK today 9see below) on mother of dead girl being given hacked phone by Rebekah Brooks. "The tabloid at the center of the scandal, The News of the World, had championed the campaign of the grieving mother, Sara Payne, for a law warning parents if child sex offenders lived nearby, and she had written warmly of the paper in its final edition, calling it 'an old friend.' A statement released on behalf of Mrs. Payne by the Phoenix Foundation, a charity she worked with, described her as devastated and disappointed."

12:30 Apparently a false new report circulating that CNN has suspended Piers Morgan for role in hacking years ago.

11:25 Guardian: Good old Rebekah Brooks gave a cell phone to mother of dead child (potentially allowing for easier access to messages?)

10:45: Judge suggests case is expanding—so could drag on for a year or more.

10:30 Piers Morgan continues to deny hacking claims.

9:55 Former NOTW staffers looking for work even in… Siberia.

8:05 British academics accuse Times cartoonist of using “racist caricatures” in what they say was a crude and offensive attempt to deflect attention from the phone hacking row.

12:00 India Today reminds us that the Murdoch Empire extends beyond the US and UK, and that many of its Asian companies remain untouched by the hacking scandal.

From late Wednesday

9/11 families to meet with Atty Gen Holder re Murdoch scandal and hacking.

Times editor James Harding calls News International’s handling of the phone-hacking scandal “catastrophic” and says that it damaged his paper’s sales.

Dennis Potter, noted Brit playwright, before his death called his cancer of the pancreas “Rupert,” and explained: “There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press, and the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life…. I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, Rupert.”

No blood money: Military charities in UK turn down large proceeds offered from final day sales of NOTW, saying they are totally repulsed by hacking, especially of dead soldiers’ families.

American fillmmaker Robert Greenwald: “What is the main lesson learned in the Murdoch scandal? That corporate conglomerate power run unregulated causes great public harm and lacks the checks and balances required for there to be any accountability. Given this, what would be the best way to investigate the criminal wrongdoings of such a conglomerate?”

 

COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: July 27, 1945 (X Minus 10 Days)

Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable. Then film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades. We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting yesterday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, on that film suppression, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, starting with Truman in his diary claiming that atomic bombs would only be dropped on military targets and not against “women and children.” Yesterday: The order to drop the bombs and the Potsdam Declaration calling for Japan’s surrender. (For more, including video, see my personal blog)

On this day in 1945:

—Truman continued to meet with Allied leaders in Germany, the Soviets got ready to declare war on Japan (“fini Japs” when that happened, Truman had written in his diary), and preparations to get the first A-bomb ready for use were finalized. The Japanese government released an edited version of the “unconditonal surrender” Potsdam declaration to their press and citizens, but had not yet rejected it. The Domei news agency had already predicted that the surrender demand “would be ignored.”

—Eleven days after the first, and quite secret, atomic test at Trinity, which spread wide clouds of radioactive fallout over residents downwind—livestock had been sickened or killed—radiation monitors had become concerned about the exposure for one family, the shpe of things to come. (J. Robert Oppenheimer and Gen. Leslie Groves, the heads of the project, at left.)

—Several more B-29s to be used in the first A-bomb mission landed at Kirtland Army Air Field in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Indianapolis delivers Little Boy bomb units, and the U-235 projectile, to Tinian in the Pacfiic

—“A Petition to the President of the United States” organized by famed nuclear scientist Leo Szilard, and signed by sixty-eight of his Los Alamos colleagues, urgently urging caution on the use of the new weapon against Japan, continued to be held in some sort of limbo while Truman remained abroad.l .

—Incendiary raids on Japanese cities continued.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two US Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App,

MURDOCH WATCH: Blogging RupertGate, for Wednesday

A new blog with frequent updates, with the latest at the top, much like my long-running WikiLeaks News & Views blog. My Nation associate Kevin Donohoe is helping out mightily with links, as is Barbara Bedway. Speaking of scandal, see my new book Atomic Cover-Up just out , in print and as e-book.

2:20  9/11 families to meet with Atty Gen Holder re: Murdoch scandal and hacking.

11:55 Times Editor James Harding calls News International's handling of the phone hacking scandal "catastrophic" and said that it damaged his paper's sales.

11:10  Dennis Potter, noted Brit playwright, before his death called his cancer of the pancreas "Rupert," and explained:  "There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press, and the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life...I call my cancer, the main one, the pancreas one, Rupert."

10:00  No blood money:  Military charities in UK turn down large proceeds offered from final day sales of NOTW, saying they are totally repulsed by hacking, especially of dead soldiers' families.

9:30  American fillmmaker Robert Greenwald: "What is the main lesson learned in the Murdoch scandal?  That corporate conglomerate power run unregulated causes great public harm and lacks the checks and balances required for there to be any accountability. Given this, what would be the best way to investigate the criminal wrongdoings of such a conglomerate?"

9:00  Big Guardian story on Osborne, chancellor of the exchecquer, and his numerous meetings with News Int'l. execs, including five with Rebekah "Babbling" Brooks, four with James Murdoch and twice with Rupert.  "The figures show the full extent of the government's links with News International:"

From late Tuesday

The Financial Times reports that law firm BCL Burton Copeland is no longer advising News International about an investigation into phone hacking. This is a particularly risky time to be lawyer for News Corp. "after Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, said its board relied on legal opinions that phone hacking was not widespread at the News of the World, the now-defunct Sunday tabloid."

The Telegraph: Official figures show "that 20 Cabinet ministers met senior Murdoch executives 130 times over the past 14 months." That's once every three days, the paper notes.

Blogger claims to have recording that contradicts Piers Morgan's vehement  phone hacking denials. 

Daily Mail: George Osborne has met executives of News Corporation companies on sixteen occasions since the coalition government assumed office, records reveal.

The Guardian: James Murdoch could earn a performance-related bonus of up to $12m and Rupert $25m despite the phone-hacking scandal.

The New York Times Magazine is out with an article (presumably from next week’s issue) on News of the World’s final, chaotic hours by former journo there. “And then, finally, we went to the pub.”

 Timeline of current scandal at WL Central with promise of more to come.

COUNTDOWN TO HIROSHIMA: July 26, 1945 (X Minus 11 Days)

Sixty-six years ago this week, US policymakers and President Truman made fateful decisions that meant the use of two atomic bombs against Japanese cities was almost inevitable—virtually unstoppable.  Film footage and other evidence of the true effects of the bomb were suppressed for decades.  We’ve been living with the nuclear after-effects ever since, from Hiroshima to Fukushima.

Starting yesterday, and related to publication of my new book and e-book Atomic Cover-up, I began offering a daily record of what transpired leading up the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Yesterday we found Truman in his diary claiming that atomic bombs would only be dropped on military targets and not against “women and children.” Today we cover two major developments, from July 26, 1945. For more, including video, see my personal blog.

Early on July 26, Chief of Staff Gen.George Marshall cabled to Gen. Leslie Groves, military chief of the Manhattan Project back in Washington, DC, his approval of a directive sent by Groves the night before. It read: “1. The 509th Composite Group, Twentieth Air Force, will deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki…. 2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above tagets as soon as made ready by the project staff…..” This assembly-line approach would have tragic consequences for the city of Nagasaki. (Kyoto had been removed from the target list after the Secretary of War Henry Stimson pleaded that destroying this historic and beautiful city would really turn the Japanese against us in the postwar period.)

In a 1946 letter to Stimson, Truman reminded him that he had ordered the bombs used against cities engaged “exclusively” in war work. Truman would later write in his memoirs, “With this order the the wheels were set in motion for the first use of an atomic weapon against a military target.” Even years after the decision, and all the evidence (largely kept from the American people) that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only partly “military” targets, Truman still acted otherwise.

The other major event from this day was equally significant. The Potsdam Declaration was issued in Germany by the United States, Britain and China. (The Soviet Union was still ostensibly not at war with Japan but agreed to enter the conflict around August 7. This has led some to suggest that we used the bombs quickly to try to end the war before the Russians could claim much new territory.) It was Truman’s first key wartime conference with other top leaders.

The declaration ordered Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally or face a reign of ruin—“prompt and utter destruction”—although the new weapon was not mentioned (such a warning had been considered by Truman but rejected). Much was made of the importance of the “unconditional” aspect but three weeks later, after the use of the new bombs, we accepted a major condition, allowing the Japanese to keep their emperor, and still called the surrender “unconditonal.” Some historians believe that if we had agreed to that condition earlier Japan might have started the surrender process before the use of the atomic bombs. Others believe an explicit warning to the Japanese, or a demonstration of the new weapon offshore in Japan, would have speeded the surrender process. But the Potsdam Declaration set US policy in stone.

Greg Mitchell’s new book (also out as an e-book) is Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made. He also co-authored, with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow.
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