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WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 2:52:23 PM   
borner


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Tocaff started a thread that sadly turned into a debate roughly centered around the question of was the Allied bombing of Axis cities a war crime? I am starting this thread so that anyone wanting to continue the debate has a forum to do so, withouth taking over someone elses thread about a whole new subject.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 3:45:36 PM   
Ike99


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quote:

I did my Senior thesis in college about something very similar, and would find that debate interesting, but it should not be done on this thread. If we want to keep the debate going, great, I will even start another thread for it,


What was the conclusion of your thesis?

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 5:01:29 PM   
Wirraway_Ace


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While I have never been a fan of strategic bombing because of the magnatude of the collateral damage, I don't think the whole campaign could be condemned as a war crime.

WWII was a total war with entire economies mobilized in the effort. I can't see a case against attacking the enemies war-making ability.  The major industries of war would necessarily be in major population centers.  Striking the industries and the nearby population was messy but necessary.  Some of the individual raids (Dresden comes to mind) were certainly legally questionable, but the Allied system of announcing the raids by radio certainly showed am attempt to mitigate the unnecessary deaths. 

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 5:06:59 PM   
AcePylut


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There's only one rule in war.

Win

Everything else is secondary.


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 7:28:23 PM   
Wirraway_Ace


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Did a little more reading to refresh my memory.

My thoughts: 
The British bombing campaign post blitz (Dec 1940 - May 45 ) was largely immoral.  There was little consistant or practical attempt to target militarily significant objectives due to the lack of accuracy of the night bombing campaign (and the unsustainably high losses of daylight raids).  This was understood by the planners.
The Le May led American bombing campaign (March 45 - Aug 45) against Japan was largely immoral.  Le May appears to have shifted much of focus from reasonably precise raids against clearly military related targets to area fire-bombing of cities.  His tactical motive appears to have been that Japanese interceptors and AA were becoming too effective for daylight, precision raids to continue.  There seems likely to have been a motive to punish the Japanese too.

Both these campaigns show the unfortunate effect of inertia on combat operations and morality in war.  Once enemy defenses made aircraft losses from reasonably precise daylight raids too costly, planners were forced to change to area targets or leave the bombers on the ground.  This second choice, the morally correct choice, would have been nearly impossible to have implemented by any leader, even the President or Prime Minister, in the context of total war. The conduct of the Axis powers during the war would have seriously undermined Allied leader's conviction that restraint was appropriate. Indeed, Axis conduct made the "Win at any cost" philosophy very, defensible.



< Message edited by Wirraway_Ace -- 2/15/2008 7:34:16 PM >

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 7:49:36 PM   
SuluSea


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While I can't speak for anyone else I doubt any minds will be changed on either side.

Being ex-military my view is when confronted with aggression or war is brought to your very own doorstep you use any means neccesary to break the enemies will to fight or even think about waging war again.

The war was thrust upon the allies by aggressive nations that wanted to dominate the world.

William T. Sherman says it perfectly in these two quotes by the General.



"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. "
 

And my favorite


"War is the remedy our enemies have chosen, and I say give them all they want. "




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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 8:51:02 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

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Ike, regards your quoting of the Nuremburg Charter in the 'Peace' thread . . . who was charged under that specific phrase for aerial bombardment?

To repeat, no individuals or countries were ever tried for aerial bombardment of civilians/cities/etc. at Nuremburg or the later Japanese war crime trials. If no one was tried, no one was held to a different legal standard

< Message edited by anarchyintheuk -- 2/15/2008 8:57:08 PM >

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 9:44:39 PM   
Ike99


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quote:

Wirraway_Ace-While I have never been a fan of strategic bombing because of the magnatude of the collateral damage, I don't think the whole campaign could be condemned as a war crime.


I would agree with you. Even the fire bombing of Tokyo could be (although stretched a bit) considered justifiable because from my understanding the ¨official target¨ was an area where a lot of weapons were manufactured.


Even at Hiroshima, if the target was a military target (there was a Army HQ there) and the bomb dropped on it, (overlooking proportionality and the many available options of conventional strikes) you could possibly defend that.

Nagasaki, I can´t see any justifiable reason for that overlooking anything and everything.

quote:

anarchyintheuk- . . who was charged under that specific phrase for aerial bombardment?

To repeat, no individuals or countries were ever tried for aerial bombardment of civilians/cities/etc.


Your using a lot of thread.

No one was charged with any specific word, phrase, sentence or paragraph nor or they ever charged with any one specific word, phrase, sentence or paragraph from a law.

You charge, try and convict by Articles. In this case, Article 6. You can´t go through and strike words, sentences and paragraphs out of a law because you don´t like them.

A lot of war criminals at Nuremberg would have looooved to have been able to do that.

Article 6 is Article 6. You take it all or reject it all.



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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 10:58:55 PM   
Ike99


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Imagine this for a moment. Truman tells McArthur..

...pass along to the Japanese, we will break our aggreement of no seperate peace with the communist, accept their surrender with the Emporer condition as soon as the Germans surrender. This is done.

There is no Iwo Jima
There is no Okinawa
No Hiroshima
No Nagasaki
No Korean War
China probably doesn´t go Communist
Possibly no Vietnam

You see? I just won WW2. Saved a lot of lives and stuck it to Uncle Joe all at the same time. Still came out smelling like a flower.

That´s why all this came out again in Korea when McArthur and Truman had their dust up. I´m sure McArthur threw it up in Trumans face they wouldn´t even be fighting Korea if he had just accepted Japanese surrender back in 44´.

Bad call.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 11:15:26 PM   
Joe D.


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This was discussed in great detail and at great length in the WitP forum under the "Tibbits has passed on" thread; anyone wishing to review this thread can use this link:

http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1603113&mpage=1&key=A%2Dbomb%2Ctibbits%2Cjapan

borner, can you edit your thread's name and fit another "b" in WW II boming debate"?

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/15/2008 11:48:40 PM   
PizzaMan


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My thoughts:

More people were killed during the fire bombings of Tokyo, than killed by both atom bombs combined. 

When God commanded Israel to occupy the land of milk and honey, and kill all who inhabited the land, is God guilty of a war crime?

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 12:57:24 AM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: PizzaMan

... When God commanded Israel to occupy the land of milk and honey, and kill all who inhabited the land, is God guilty of a war crime?


By definition, all God's acts are righteous. But as the psalmist has said, who can say to God, "What are you doing"?




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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 1:06:18 AM   
stevebhoy

 

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i think it is far easier to sit here after this length of time,and try and justify the rights and wrongs of the bombing campaign,britain itself suffered greatly,london,coventry,to name a cpl of cities,but to think at the time this was going on and to make a decision that you think may save the lives of fellow countryman,and shorten the war,would you bomb a city?

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 5:42:53 AM   
borner


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In answer to Ike's question,

What I found was very interesting, and far different than what I had expected or been taught in school up to that point.

One must remember it was a very different time. WWI was less than a generation old, where mass Gas atacks, by BOTH sides was accepted. the targeting of non-combatants in WWII was an accepted practice by both sides also, but at least both refrained from mass gas-bombing attacks on cities that could have caused terrible loss. You cannot look at it from 2008 standards, but rather the way the world was then. In the 1940's, that was how wars were fought, as terrible as it was.

As for the Atomic bombs, there is no debate that using them to force Japan's surrender cost less lives than an invasion would have. Far less. However, personally, I do not think that is the main reason they were used. First and formast, the US leadership wanted the war over quickly. The is a large amount of evidence that at big part of the reason the bombs were dropped was to have Japan surrender before Russia could make huge gains in the area, and to show them the new weapon the US had available. Had the allies been willing to maintain a blockade, Japan woud have probably surrended in 6 months without an invasion. They had already made repeated attempts to try to get Russia to broker a peace. Had the bombing continued, Tojo and the die-hards would have had a harder and harder time holding power. However, there was no way the US joint chiefs were going to go that way.

This being said, I go back to the point that 6 more months of bombing would have cost more lives in Japan than the  atomic bombs did, plus the additional US losses. Not to mention the men that would have been lost in the continuing land war in China and against the Russians that had now invaded. Were they "needed" to prevent an invasion. In my opinion clearly no; but even given as terrible, horrific, or any other term you want to use, and use with justification, they were probably the least destructive alternative.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 6:44:08 AM   
borner


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IKE

with respect, your point of making peace with Japan when Germany surrendered is not practical. Tojo and his gov't were no where near ready to do that. Their position fell apart in the months after that. However, it is a very interesting "what if". Had Japan's seeming willingness to surrneder to a "nearly undoncidional" surrender happened several months earlier, things would have been very different. NO Russian entry into the Pacific war, no North and South Korea, In turn making Korea a stornger ally in the region. China probably still Communist given how weak the Nationalist gov't was at the time. Manchuria would be interesting given all 3 allies in the area would have wanted infulence. If China is thus weakenend, do they give as much supprot against the French in Vietnam? As I said, interesting " What if".


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 3:31:05 PM   
tocaff


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I have a question that I'd like answered.  Why does everyone always answer Ike's questions and yet he selectively answers questions directed at him?  Come on Ike answer people, it doesn't hurt and it is the nice thing to do.

The people are a county's greatest resource.  If that's true then strategic bombing of population centers, no matter how you feel about it, is justified.  Manpower dictates the size of a county's military.  If you read Churchill's history of WW2 he addresses this problem comparing what Great Britain, France and Germany were capable of fielding in the number of army division based on population.  Even today the USA, Russia and others target potential targets with ICBMs and they aren't all strictly military targets as the cities again are primary targets.  Destroy a country's will to fight and you win.  Destroy a county's infrastructure and you win.  A country with little infrastructure (North Vietnam for example) is imune.  If nobody was ever punished for the bombings of Rotterdam, Leningrad (today St Pertersburg), Dresden, London or Tokyo to name a few then how can anyone say that there's an unequal judgement being used here?  Pinpoint bombing is getting better all of the time due to technology so a bombing raid to knock out a factory in a German city during WW2 required one or more missions of hundreds of planes dropping bombs that literally landed all over the place and today maybe a couple of planes could do it with almost no collateral damage.  There hasn't been a war, thankfully, since WW2 that required a total mobilization of a country's economy so who knows what would be done in a large scale conventional war today.  Would it even remain conventional if one side or the other had nukes and was fairing poorly?  Like it's been said "War is hell."
Enough of my rant.


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 3:59:00 PM   
Joe D.


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I think (modern) total war began w/Grant's seige of Vicksburg, and was later perfected in Sherman's "war is hell" march to the sea; both men are controversial, even to this day, since this concept was never well received, esp. by the South. But it did end a bitter, costly war and the North did prevail; parallels could be made to the US/Japan in WW II.

However, things have changed: what was acceptable in the 1800's and 1900's has today become politically incorrect; no one wants to defend it, or even admit to it, even if it's true that civilians are part of an industrial nation's infrastucture.

I think HansB politely summed it up when he said Ike was "dodgey".

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 5:29:12 PM   
Nomad

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ike99

Imagine this for a moment. Truman tells McArthur..

...pass along to the Japanese, we will break our aggreement of no seperate peace with the communist, accept their surrender with the Emporer condition as soon as the Germans surrender. This is done.

There is no Iwo Jima
There is no Okinawa
No Hiroshima
No Nagasaki
No Korean War
China probably doesn´t go Communist
Possibly no Vietnam

You see? I just won WW2. Saved a lot of lives and stuck it to Uncle Joe all at the same time. Still came out smelling like a flower.

That´s why all this came out again in Korea when McArthur and Truman had their dust up. I´m sure McArthur threw it up in Trumans face they wouldn´t even be fighting Korea if he had just accepted Japanese surrender back in 44´.

Bad call.



How about we go one better - Japan does NOT conduct surprise attacks on the US, Brition, PI, etc. There, I just saved a few more tens of thousands of lives. Or better yet, Japan does not invade China and bomb civilians. Once move we can save 10's or 100's of thousands of lives.


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 7:09:34 PM   
tocaff


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Ike?...Ike?...Ike?
Bueller?...Bueller?...Bueller?


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 9:33:35 PM   
Ike99


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quote:

Ike?...Ike?...Ike?
Bueller?...Bueller?...Bueller?


The bombing of population centers or ¨strategic bombing¨ did not do much in WW2 except kill civilians Tocaff. It´s a myth that it did.

German war production, with the Allies bombing day and night doubled, tripled and quadrupled during the 5 years of ¨strategic bombing ¨

In 1944 German production of the ME262 was 564 planes. In just the 4 months of 1945 before they surrendered 730 were produced just as one quick example.

No strategic bombing effected overall war production in WW2 by much if at all. To say otherwise is a good example of being impervious to facts. Look at the numbers.

As far as breaking German oil production, strategic bombing didn´t do that either despite the big propaganda claim it did.

The reason the Germans ran out of petrol and oil and their wartime economy crashed in general is because the Soviets ran over all the oil fields. The Allies were sitting on all of it. Easy.

In Japans case what was decisive was the US submarine campaign, the battle of Leyte Gulf and control of the Phillipines.

Again here, as with Germany. The control of the oil is what broke them and their war time economies, Not bombing population centers. Axis wartime production would have crashed, as it did, without dropping a single bomb on a Japanese or German population center.

Strategic Bombing was not even close to being as decisive as the post war propaganda, that you believe, claims it was.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 9:48:13 PM   
tocaff


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No kidding?  Gee none of us knew that.  But the bombings of cities were not just to kill civilians as you say.  There was industry located there and the attempt was made to disrupt production so cities were bombed.  The daylight and night bombings of Germany were effective in that it stretched an already over taxed defensive network.  Imagine if Germany could've fielded all of those planes, troops and guns against the advancing Allied armies instead of trying to defend the Fatherland from air attacks.  The ME-262 could've flown over a year earlier than it did in combat if Hitler hadn't demanded that it be a bomber.  Yes, wars are won by feet on the ground and a modern economy doesn't function without oil.

Now, how about answering all of the questions that've been directed at you of late.  People don't dodge your questions, why do you duck theirs?


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 10:57:23 PM   
borner


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two points.. first, why do I answer IKE? (as I assume that comment was in part directed to me) Personally, I do not have an issue with him. Yes, at times his comments about his games can be considered excessive, but in the emails we exchange about the games I have found him to be very civil.

As for the bombing campaign on the allied side, you have a hard time arguing that until 1944, it was very ineffective, and not worth the cost. The 8th air force and bomeber ommand went along seperatley, reducing the effectiveness. Eventually, as the weight of the raids began to tell, Germany was forced to pull back much of it's fighter force off the front lines, which especially helped the Red Air Force. When a concentrated effort was made against the Oil industry, it did have an impact. Ground units had gas shortsages, pilot training was cut down, and the new ME-262 units were short of fuel. Another intersting what is that in 1943, how much shorter would the war have been nad both the US and GB air forces picked oil/fuel and the main target, and made a conentrated effort to knock it down and keep it down.


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 11:39:16 PM   
Ike99


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quote:

There was industry located there and the attempt was made to disrupt production so cities were bombed.


A British report said a strategic bomber is having an extremely good day if it puts a single bomb within 5 miles of its target. Besides Tocaff, you´re talking out of both sides of your mouth. In your previous post you said..

quote:

The people are a county's greatest resource. If that's true then strategic bombing of population centers, no matter how you feel about it, is justified.


...in an attempt to say it was justifiable to bomb cities because as a result, civilians are killed, and as a result of that it causes an end to a war by destroying the countrys greatest asset, people. Then you went on to talk about Atomic bombs targetting Russia and all this to support your statement.

Bombing cities in world war two did one thing. Kill civilians. It did not break morale, it did not destroy any industrial bases, it did not change any leaders mind about anything. In no way, shape or form did ¨Strategic Bombing¨ do anything it was supposed to be able to do by it´s proponents.

The tactical...¨tactical¨ use that is of airpower in WW2 was quite effective. The strategic use of airpower was a total failure.


quote:

The daylight and night bombings of Germany were effective in that it stretched an already over taxed defensive network.


In what way? By putting the 12 year old boys and 70 year old men up on flak towers?



quote:


Imagine if Germany could've fielded all of those planes, troops and guns against the advancing Allied armies instead of trying to defend the Fatherland from air attacks.


They did field ¨all those planes, troops and guns¨ and bombing population centers didn´t stop them. The industries were all widely dispersed outside of the cities.


quote:

Even today the USA, Russia and others target potential targets with ICBMs and they aren't all strictly military targets as the cities again are primary targets. Destroy a country's will to fight and you win.


They can save themselves a lot of cities by simply blowing up each others oil refineries. Do that and the war will be over very quickly. Blowing up each others cities won´t break anyones will as it didn´t in WW2. It will just make each other angry.

quote:

Now, how about answering all of the questions that've been directed at you of late. People don't dodge your questions, why do you duck theirs?


What questions are you talking about?


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/16/2008 11:48:49 PM   
tocaff


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Borner, I wasn't directing at anyone other than Ike.  My question to him wasn't an attack on him.  As to his excessive remarks about his games, he has stated that at times he tries to get into his opponent's head (psychological warefare).

Even if the bombing campaign never was as effective as desired it did hinder Germany's war effort.  If a factory is closed for a week or 2, it is disruptive.  If a factory no longer has a roof on it then rain can disrupt production.  Without the bombing German production would've been substantially greater in it's expansion as the war progressed.  Japan, on the other hand, saw production become a partial cottage industry due to bombing.  If you force an opponent to allocate resources to an area at the cost of another, then your bombing campaign is having a negative effect on him.  Imagine a Russian assault where they carried the day because they had so many tanks that they overwhelmed the defense.  Now imagine that same battle with with an antitank gun battalion armed with Flak 88s added to the order of battle, could be a different result.  Oil was and still is the key.  No oil, no machines and all grinds to a near halt.  The Allies should've bombed the hell out of the oil fields and refineries from the get go.  Yes I know about Germany's shale oil production and that should've been bombed out of business too.


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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 12:05:33 AM   
borner


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no offence taken.

Yes, against Japan the allies come closer to getting it right. I think part of that is the campaign starting in 44 after the mistakes of 1943 in Errope had been learned from. Also, the targets were easier to damage due to the nature of how thigs were built. I think the final insult was US Battleships siling up to the coast and shelling Japanese factories. Not sure what discussion that would fall into though.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 12:28:21 AM   
tocaff


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Really a bombardment is a bombardment no matter how it's delivered the results are the same-death and destruction.  Kind of like someone sailing up the ship channel and unloading on Houston.  Like pouring salt on the wound or twisting the knife.  Again trying to impress on the Japanese how hopeless their situation really was.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 1:58:31 AM   
ILCK

 

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This is a lot of latter day morality as well. At the time you had the following realities:

1. A total war environment. Everyone was helping fight the war. They were either shooting at you, making the bullets to shoot at you or growing the food to feed the people shooting at you or making the bullets to shoot at you. Draw the line between civilian and combatant. Is it better to wipe out a Panzer factory that makes 100 tanks a month or shoot 100 tanks on the battlefield?
2. There were no non-military targets since even (the two biggest crying points) Dresden was a major rail transport city that the Russians badly wanted bombed and Hiroshima had thousands of Japanese solidiers and other facilities. That is as good as it has ever gotten for the revisionists.
3. Non-precision weapons. Even the vaunted Norden did not allow you to precisely drop on "military" targets. There was just no way to "only" attack military targets.
4. Distributed manufacturing. The Japanese farmed out large chunks of their manufacturing ensuring that "civilian" areas were necessary targets but the Germans began to do so as well. If you could not hit a factory complex there's no way to target a single house.

The simple fact is that, in WWII, everyone bombed and targeted "civilian" areas  - good guys and bad guys. It was, as Lucien Febvre, would say about atheism in the 16th century, almost impossible to conceive of not bombing in this way and not using the weapons at your disposal.

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RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 2:08:08 AM   
tocaff


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The "vaunted" Norden bombsight was a joke among the aircrews according to my father.  It was not nearly as accurate as claimed.  Remember that though it was state of the art for it's day by today's standards it couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, from the inside.  In the near future they'll be laughing at our present day accuracy for our weapons. 

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(in reply to ILCK)
Post #: 28
RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 2:19:50 AM   
borner


Posts: 1486
Joined: 3/20/2005
From: Houston TX
Status: offline
yes, my grandfather had the same opinion of the bombsight. He was a ball turret gunner in the 8th air force. (my other grandfater was in the marines in the pacific - kinda luck I am here at all if you think about it)...  He understod what they were doing, but back then, it was part of war. I also he was happy as he** when p-51's starting showing up. Amazing how bombing became more accurate when you have escorts isn't it?


(in reply to tocaff)
Post #: 29
RE: WWII boming debate - 2/17/2008 6:27:40 PM   
Wirraway_Ace


Posts: 1166
Joined: 10/8/2007
From: Austin / Brisbane
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ike99

The bombing of population centers or ¨strategic bombing¨ did not do much in WW2 except kill civilians Tocaff. It´s a myth that it did.

German war production, with the Allies bombing day and night doubled, tripled and quadrupled during the 5 years of ¨strategic bombing ¨

In 1944 German production of the ME262 was 564 planes. In just the 4 months of 1945 before they surrendered 730 were produced just as one quick example.

No strategic bombing effected overall war production in WW2 by much if at all. To say otherwise is a good example of being impervious to facts. Look at the numbers.



Ike, while I am not a big fan of the Strategic Bombing Campaign, I not sure I agree with your use of "the numbers" in this way. I am an economist by training, and all this really tells you is that Germany was able to increase production of key weapon systems in spite of the bombing. It doesn't tell you what their potential production was if their industries had been left alone.

A reasonable arguement could be made that the allies would have faced a lot more Panthers on the ground and ME262s in the air had their industries been left to function safely.

(in reply to Ike99)
Post #: 30
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