From: Bedfordshire UK
UK Bomber Command realised that with night bombing they could not be accurate enough to hit the industrial targets. So they deliberately bombed the vast residential districts housing the workers to directly target the workforce. US firebombing of Japanese cities largely the same desired result. And interestingly, as with the a-bomb, military leadership argued against, in favour of using resources against direct military targets. So it was not done through pressing military need. The Allied civilian command had committed to a long-term strategic campaign to use what was the ultimate terror weapon of its time - aerial bombardment - to break the will of the people of the nations it was at war with. Russians excepted.
If the Japanese had firebombed Los Angeles residential districts, it would be remembered rather differently I suspect.
We can argue round these points forever, I am fully aware of what area bombing means, as were the people at the time. I am aware of how area bombing developed into the primary tactic. I have explained that the acceptance of civilian casualties, even to our own allies, was a known and accepted part of the technology of the time.
In the 2194 days of WW2, 1939-45, an estimated 50,000,000 people died, do the maths, that's an average of 22,789 people (mums, dads, kids, - human beings) every single day the war continued (I know that some of these were bombing casualties, but we are looking at the bigger picture of a Total War).
The Allies prime objective was to end the War by any means possible. If the Axis powers had surrendered, the bombing would have ended instantly, as the bombing campaign was motivated by the Allied war aim to end the fighting (killing civilians was not the primary objective, destroying the enemies' will and ability to fight was.).
If the Allies had surrendered would the killing have stopped. No, because it wasn't motivated by Axis war aims, it was something much, much, more sinister.
Today's conflicts are of a totally different order, in a totally different context, and bear not relation to WW2.
If the Japanese had possessed the power to fire bomb the residential districts of Los Angeles, they would have done it and their population would have cheered the success. This is Nations at war, extermination policies, genocide, not the current 'proportional response', 24hr TV ratings, 'conflict'.
I am surprised that you don't think that ending the war quickly in 1945 was not a pressing military need, what about the pressing humanitarian need to end the war. Europe was staving in 1945, even the Germans recognised that and allowed Allied aircraft to airdrop food supplies to Holland, before the war ended (the best use of a Lancaster bomber I can think of).
Are you able to imagine what would have happened if after selectively bombing military targets with nuclear weapons, if the Japanese had not surrendered. Remember, the project had only delivered two bombs and they were still effectively experimental (there was not a stock for a bombing campaign, a one shot weapon). So then what, invasion ? see Okinawa hugely magnified, enormous casualties, mass suicides and behind it all, with, or without, invasion of the Japanese mainland, the collapse of the economy and starvation on an enormous scale.
The other factor is the Russians, pushing West with hundreds of divisions, with a proven record of taking over other people's countries, against which the pitiful Allied ground forces would have been overwhelmed. The only advantage the Allies had was in air power and Stalin needed to know that. It is no accident that Dresden was visible from the Russian frontline in 1945. I suspect the targets for the nuclear weapons had a similar motive.
Was it a price worth paying, we will never know, but the political situation at that time was unbelievably difficult, with very high stakes. I don't think we have the right to play judge from our hard won privileged position.
So for me the issue is one of motive and intent, I am not attempting to paint the Allies as pure and guiltless in what was an unbelievably horrific and protracted situation, however, their motives and intent cannot be compared to those of the Axis powers. I believe that the Allies where attempting to minimise casualties in a situation where a large number of deaths was inevitable, which ever policy they chose.
< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 1/3/2011 11:41:33 AM >