Dropping the bomb

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 20, 2007

Nation media writer Eric Alterman made an allegation in a column in that magazine that, well, I'll let you read it:

When Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets died November 1, the New York Times repeated Tibbets's contention that "It would have been morally wrong if we'd have had [the atomic bomb] and not used it and let a million more people die." That virtually no reputable historian would put the casualty figure for a US invasion of Japan anywhere near that high (leaving aside the question of whether an invasion would have been necessary) was not mentioned in the story.

Uh...bull. Alterman just makes stuff up, as Oliver Kamm noted:

What can you say? The most charitable explanation I can give is that Alterman is (unlike the late General Tibbets) sufficiently ethnocentric not to take into account the deaths of Japanese civilians that would have resulted from a conventional invasion and blockade of the home islands, sufficiently casual not to distinguish between deaths and casualties, and entirely unaware of research by American and Japanese historians published in the last 20 years concerning the conclusion of the Pacific War. I can name off the top of my head at least a dozen leading historians in this field who would concur with Tibbets's judgement, owing to their knowledge of Japanese military preparations on Kyushu, the Americans' experience of battle at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, the casualty estimates used by the Truman administration, the number of American medals struck in anticipation of the appalling costs of a conventional invasion, and other factors.

One of my regular correspondents, the military historian D.M. Giangreco, wrote a definitive paper on the administration's casualty estimates, published as "'A Score of Bloody Okinawas and Iwo Jimas': President Truman and Casualty Estimates for the Invasion of Japan", in Pacific Historical Review, Feb 2003, and reprinted in Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism, ed. Robert J. Maddox, 2007, pp. 76-115. From his scrutiny of primary sources, he observed: "Truman's much-derided accounts of massive casualties projected for the two-phase invasion of Japan are richly supported by US Army, White House, Selective Service and War Department documents produced before the use of nuclear weapons against Japan and stretching back through the last nine months of the Roosevelt administration."

In his paper, Dennis quotes from a letter to him by George F. Kennan, the most significant figure in US diplomacy in the past century and chief of policy planning to General George Marshall immediately after the War. Writing in 1997, Kennan concurred: "I have no doubt that our leaders, General Marshall among them, had good reason to anticipate a casualty rate of dreadful and sickening proportions in any invasion of Japan." After the publication of his paper, Dennis also received the views of Arthur Schlesinger Jnr (quoted in a letter by Dennis published in The Journal of Military History, January 2004): "The Pacific Historical Review paper is a masterful job of historical research and argument.... You have demolished the claim that President Truman's high casualty estimates were a postwar invention."

Too often, revisionist history is just a fancy way of saying "lying." For those who haven't seen it, I encourage you to check out Clint Eastwood's film, now on DVD, "Letters from Iwo Jima" and its depiction of the suicidal loyalty of many Japanese soldiers to the Emperor.

This is the norm for Alterman. I encountered much the same thing when I read his book, "What Liberal Media?" I've been in the newspaper business more than a dozen years, and what he was describing as conservative control of America's newsrooms was completely foreign to my experience. Just because they're not as liberal as Alterman, doesn't make them conservatives.


Transcript of the Hulu 1619 Project segment on Dunmore's Proclamation.

Again, none of this is true. Dunmore issued his order from exile on a ship off of Norfolk. He fled Williamsburg 5 months earlier (with his own slaves in tow) because the revolution was already underway.

I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in the state of Tennessee one month ago. At no time was I refused care and at no time was anyone restricted from saving my life, even though my baby did die. This is misinformation that could prevent women from seeking help. https://twitter.com/whitehouse/status/1617254668488278017

The White House @WhiteHouse

In states where abortion is restricted, doctors live in fear of being thrown in jail for simply doing their job.

Dr. Zahedi-Spung shares her story as we call on Congress to protect reproductive freedom for the people of America.

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November 2007



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