Could the bombing of Hiroshima be considered a war crime?

Apr 2018
15
California
I might catch some flak for this, but in desperate times, civies are fair game, a ball bearing factory or a tire factory etc fuels the war, civvies operate them...so yeah either kill them or send your people to die with a mainland invasion. If you can take away their capacity to make war, ultimately less death will occur
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at that point its not who but how
 
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Aug 2015
2,359
uk
The United States had defeated Japan before nuking 2 cities - unrestricted sub warfare, mining all the Japanese harbors via B-29s and the firebombing campaign had ended Japan's ability to fight. However - Japan would not accept the terms of surrender. Unfortunately - the timing allowed the USSR to get a hand into Japan controlled areas in Asia. The US invading Japan would have allowed the USSR to grab too much land - that is why the US wanted the war ended ASAP.

The United States made the decision to nuke Japan in the hope it would get Japan to surrender on our terms AND to send the Soviets a message - we have the bomb. The sticking point was removing the Emperor.....guess what - we changed the terms to allow the appointed governor of Japan to decide the emperor's fate. And Japan felt McArther would allow Hirohito to remain Emperor. Both sides blinked - more because of Mother Russia than 2 nukes.
Personally I think the US nuked Japan for several reasons. One was payback for Pearl Harbour and the way Japan declared war. Secondly it was to see what the effect of these weapons was on 'live' targets. Don't forget these places were virtually untouched by bombing. It also sent a message to Stalin that the US had a weapon of ultimate destruction and he'd better not mess with them. Finally it gave the Japanese an 'honourable' way out; it was no shame to surrender to a foe who could obliterate your cities in the blink of an eye.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,591
Sydney
.
@ paranoid marvin " Personally I think the US nuked Japan for several reasons"

all your reasons are good , a couple of others ,
avoiding the bloodshed of tens of thousands of GI
and the severe financial pressure on the US treasure
with a debt level at stratospheric level , government war bonds were getting hard to sell
this war had to finish , quickly !
 
Jun 2017
2,555
Connecticut
I'm ignoring nothing. Your morality is not my morality nor the morality of the state, especially not one from 1945. And your morality is not law until its agreed upon and made into...Law.

When your morality is law, you need not refer to morality anymore, because then its law, and carries with it the power of law (which can be enforced, which your morality cannot). Until then, morality is simply your opinion and nothing else. It most surely isn't a crime.
Your first paragraph honestly terrifies me and is a large part of my whole issue with some in the legal industry(as this mindset basically ignores the consequences of laws). Law without morals is nothing and the common strawman whenever you try to say something objectively is "what gives you the right to impose your morality"(I reject this dangerous post fact ideology), I find this argument is used when people don't really have a counter, I mean if your strongest argument against nukes being objectively a war crime is that I'm imposing my moral standards on a world that isn't aware that said crime is even technically possible, that's just not a good case. Yes, it's my "opinion" that nuking people is immoral, sure whatever you say.

Wonder how your logic applies to genocide.
 
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Jun 2017
2,555
Connecticut
As I understand, according to what I have read, the fire bombing of Tokyo caused more casualties than the single bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let’s assume for a moment that this is true: If so, what is the difference between a 1000 bombers dropping bombs (incendiaries) and a single bomber dropping one bomb on each of the aforementioned cities? If one is a war crime and the other isn’t - according to some here - what, exactly, is it that makes it into one?

You may call both of these attacks war crimes, of course, but then I would ask you to cite chapter and verse in contemporaneous international law (Geneva Convention, etc) that makes them so.

I’ll look forward to your responses.
I am no scholar on international law, but I'm pretty sure the reasoning for early nuclear weapons had far less to do with death tolls and far more to do with how those people die. Was poison gas banned because of the potential quantity's of people it could kill or was it banned because of the cruel nature in which this was done? There's lots of legal weapons that can kill more people than illegal ones, I'm pretty sure that isn't really the issue.
 
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
German civillians suffered horrendously in fire bombings. Many slowly cooked to death, others burned alive, others suffocated in cellars or died trapped under collapsed buildings. For them, instant vaporisation was an easier way to go, but of course there were many who survived the atomic bombs and suffered with awful wounds too.

I think that with conventional bombing there is an argument that bombers are aiming for military targets and trying to avoid civillian ones, whereas with nukes there is no hope of avoiding civillian casualties.

I wonder what the reaction we be today if it was revealed that the US actually had nukes available to use in 1943, but they chose not to in order to try to win by conventional means and not risk the lives of innocent Japanese civillians? Is it more of a crime to NOT use a weapon and unecessarily prolong a war, than to use it and thus end the loss of life on both sides?
 

botully

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
3,454
Amelia, Virginia, USA
I am no scholar on international law, but I'm pretty sure the reasoning for early nuclear weapons had far less to do with death tolls and far more to do with how those people die. Was poison gas banned because of the potential quantity's of people it could kill or was it banned because of the cruel nature in which this was done? There's lots of legal weapons that can kill more people than illegal ones, I'm pretty sure that isn't really the issue.
You seem to be applying hindsight to the Bombings. At the time they were dropped, the horrors of fallout were not known. It was regarded as a big boom, functionally no different than a 1000 bomber raid, just far more efficient and effective. You must argue that all bombing of cities were war crimes, which is silly, since everyone did it, from the first days of the war.
By your rational, the chemical attacks in WW1 were all war crimes, because it’s terrible, and was banned after the war.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,572
Australia
I see the revisionists are still beating that same tired old drum about so-called 'war crimes'. A little test for you....would any of you offer to exchange your life for the dead of Hiroshima or Nagasaki?
 

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