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The Brat Farrar
B. Farrar, Ltd.
Prose & poetry, with occasional art & photography.
May 5th, 2009
we forget so very easily
A much needed history lesson.
May 6th, 2009
Equally disingenuous to state that we gave them advance warning of an atomic bombing ...(we warned of *a* bombing, and possibly not even in the city being bombed) or a fair chance to evacuate.
But nowhere does Whittle claim that we gave warning
about the atomic bombing. His point is that it was made clear to the Japanese that bad shit was going to happen. Remember, he's responding to a particular remark made by Jon Stewart, not giving a treatise on propaganda in WWII. The leaflets are only one piece of his argument.
In any case, could we have given them more specific warning without tipping our hand? Misdirection and getting the enemy to underestimate the strength of your forces is pretty big component in winning a war (at least according to Sun-Tzu). To give a "fair chance to evacuate" would have required significantly damaging or even giving up that advantage altogether.
And then you get into the question of how close Japan was to surrendering in July 1945, at which point most historians' heads explode.
But when judging Truman's decision (which is what the segment is really about), what matters is that Japan's public statements and known policies were along the lines of committing national suicide rather than surrender. We can't judge him on the actual intent and resolve of the Japanese people.
If it makes you feel better, I just spent over an hour searching for variations on "hiroshima warning" and "japanese bombing leaflets". So thanks to you, I am now even more educated on the subject (some of the leaflets Japan dropped were pretty skeevy). I didn't, however, come across the page you linked to, probably because I'm not familiar enough with the subject to use the right combination of keywords to snag it. Something to consider when reacting to someone else's report: they can only use information they can find, and all the information I found confirmed that Hiroshima had leaflets dropped on it shortly before the bombing.
...So, yeah, that got a bit tl;dr itself. Not how I expected to spend my morning. But thanks for the reminder that one has to be really careful about using history to make a political point.