Hiroshima Day

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Igor
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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Igor » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:17 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Well, we still have the bomb and we've been in several wars since Japan.

What's your theory as to why we haven't used another one if it's such a quick and decisive way to end wars and save lives?


Because using one in today's world wouldn't end a war or save lives? I think that WWII had some pretty extenuating circumstances.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Aug 18, 2013 1:44 pm

C'mon, Igor -- how about elucidating a little more than that.
Just saying, "WWII was different" isnt much of an answer.
I mean, if The Bomb was the best solution to the war with Japan, why was it not in Korea? Or Viet Nam? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq?

This isn't intended as a "gotcha!" question, I'm seriously interested in hearing views about why the use of atomic weapons was justified and/or not immoral in Japan but has never been so again in the nearly 7 decades since. Is it simply the threat of possible nuclear retaliation? Or is there more to it than that?

Personally, I've always been pretty torn about whether nuking Japan was right or wrong, so I make no judgment on those who have arrived at their own conclusion. I really do see both sides. My curiosity in posing this question is genuine.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Igor » Sun Aug 18, 2013 5:20 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:C'mon, Igor -- how about elucidating a little more than that.
Just saying, "WWII was different" isnt much of an answer.
I mean, if The Bomb was the best solution to the war with Japan, why was it not in Korea? Or Viet Nam? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq?

This isn't intended as a "gotcha!" question, I'm seriously interested in hearing views about why the use of atomic weapons was justified and/or not immoral in Japan but has never been so again in the nearly 7 decades since. Is it simply the threat of possible nuclear retaliation? Or is there more to it than that?

Personally, I've always been pretty torn about whether nuking Japan was right or wrong, so I make no judgment on those who have arrived at their own conclusion. I really do see both sides. My curiosity in posing this question is genuine.


A number of reasons:

Both Japan and Germany clearly needed to surrender, not just negotiate a truce that restored their pre-war borders and left existing regimes in tact. Germany's plan to wipe out most of the Poles, Serbs, and Belorussians (or more accurately, work them to death) makes that clear.
Once they determined that we would only accept surrender, both Germany and Japan clearly were resolved to fight to the bitter end.

In the case of Germany, they were demonstrably killing large numbers of non-combatants daily. I don't know if the extermination camps were running faster at the end of the war, but if you take the average for the whole war, Germany made up for Dresden in a week.

In the case of Japan, they were demonstrably willing to send their own civilians to their deaths in the case of an invasion of their home islands. I think there was enough data from places like Okinawa to indicate that they had no qualms about sending women and children to their deaths if it took out a couple US soldiers.

Also quite clearly, there was no chance of an expanded nuclear war.

So, if you are going to do the grim math, there needs to be a combatant nation who:

- Has a significant military force.
- Is killing large number of non-combatants or is likely to do so.
- Where there is no chance of an expanded nuclear war.

I can't think of any war that fits all three. The ones that come to mind for #2 are Rwanda and Cambodia under Pol Pot, but they don't fit #1 at all, since they could clearly have been subdued by any military nation that desired. Of course, Korea, Vietnam, and others had a large risk of #3, so yes, the threat of retaliation was a real concern.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:14 am

Igor wrote:A number of reasons:

Both Japan and Germany clearly needed to surrender, not just negotiate a truce that restored their pre-war borders and left existing regimes in tact.


I'd go along with what Igor said but add 2 things:

I think too many people have their shorts in a knot over Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the political consequences of the US using an A bomb would be horrendous.

I do not understand this. Look at the pictures I posted of Nagasaki and Tokyo. As I said, on the ground it doesn't look like there is much too choose from between the two. If one is moral, both are. If one is immoral, both are as far as I can tell.

We bombed the crap out of both Germany and Japan. In Germany even moreso as we and the Brits were running missions 24 hours a day. Although we said we were after military targets, bombing accuracy was so poor that we really had to go after cities. The Brits didn't even make a pretense of military targets. Their aim was to "dehouse" (Churchill's word) the entire German population.

So is strategic bombing immoral? If not, why would using an atomic bomb make it moral?

But, as I said, many people, perhaps the majority of Americans see nukes as being on a different moral plane. This is one of the reasons we haven't used them.

The other is because we have gotten out of the war-winning business. We didn't win in Korea, never had any stated intention of winning, just driving the NorKs back across the 38th parallel. MacArthur wanted to win and was willing to use nukes to do so. He got sacked for his troubles.

Ditto VN. We fought them to a standstill. Destroyed the Viet Cong forever in the 68 Tet offensive. The SVN army with our air support did serious damage to the NVN army in their 1972 offensive such that they could not do much of anything for a couple years. The SVN were beating them again in 74 when our shameful congress pulled our support and they ran out of ammunition and supplies.

In WWII there was a political will to win the war in Europe and Japan. In Korea and esp in Vietnam, it was more like "Whatever"

In Iraq and Afghanistan, even if we wanted to use nukes, what would we use them on? So even ignoring any moral issue, there is a practical, military, one.

John Henry

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:34 am

I am a big fan of nuclear energy. I think we should be doing much more to develop it, especially smaller, decentralized plants.

One of the biggest problems I have with Hiroshima is that it has created an enormous roadblock to nuclear power.

Too many people see a nuclear power plant and equate it with a nuclear bomb waiting to go off. Lots of ignorance out there.

I think everyone should go watch the 1979 movie "The China Syndrome". Excellent pro-nuke safety movie, even though that was not the intention.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Mad Howler » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:09 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:I am a big fan of nuclear energy. I think we should be doing much more to develop it, especially smaller, decentralized plants.

One of the biggest problems I have with Hiroshima is that it has created an enormous roadblock to nuclear power.

Too many people see a nuclear power plant and equate it with a nuclear bomb waiting to go off. Lots of ignorance out there.

I think everyone should go watch the 1979 movie "The China Syndrome". Excellent pro-nuke safety movie, even though that was not the intention.

John Henry

JFH,
In an ideal world, where rational people informed by science are deferred to in such matters, I would agree that these forms of extracting energy are doable. I do not see that we are collectively there yet. Please, if you are compelled to carve out this option as rational, let us know how it can work safely.
As a side note, with regard to making lemonade - I as well as many others from my past were taught by a survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki, a brilliant man that compelled many to a higher place. I am thankful for this unintended consequence.
MH

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:37 pm

Mad Howler wrote:
In an ideal world, where rational people informed by science are deferred to in such matters, I would agree that these forms of extracting energy are doable. I do not see that we are collectively there yet. Please, if you are compelled to carve out this option as rational, let us know how it can work safely.


I am not clear on your question.

My problem is the misperception by many, mostly ill informed, that nuclear power plants are Hiroshimas waiting to happen. That is a question of education.

Many people, who may or may not think they can explode atomically, think nuclear power is unsafe. That too is a mis-perception and a question of education.

Or if you are saying that you believe that nuclear power plants actually are unsafe, then I would point you to almost 60 years of widespread use in large stationary power plants. I think Shippingport PA was the first in about 1956. Also lots of experience in marine power plants. They seem to have proven their safety over time.

If you are saying that safety needs to be improved, I would agree with you. We need to be continuously improving safety on everything, including nuke plant. That is not a reason to stop building them.

I do think we should focus on modular plants to a single, standard, design as the French do and as the US Navy does. That will make them safer but more importantly, it will make them less costly.

Build nukes now, build them all over. They are clean, safe and efficient.

John Henry

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:45 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:My problem is the misperception by many, mostly ill informed, that nuclear power plants are Hiroshimas waiting to happen.

Many? Strawman.

Maybe many think that way in your commonwealth. Wisconsin has a bunch of nuclear power plants and while they may face opposition, I haven't heard anyone call them potential Hiroshimas.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Mad Howler » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:47 pm

johnfajardohenry wrote:If you are saying that safety needs to be improved, I would agree with you. We need to be continuously improving safety on everything, including nuke plant. That is not a reason to stop building them.

I do think we should focus on modular plants to a single, standard, design as the French do and as the US Navy does. That will make them safer but more importantly, it will make them less costly.

Build nukes now, build them all over. They are clean, safe and efficient.

John Henry


I am saying that I think that people are often inherently greedy and short sighted. What little we hear from the French, US Navy, and the NRC does not comfort me.
http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/11/ ... ehind.html

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:09 am

Mad Howler wrote:I am saying that I think that people are often inherently greedy and short sighted. What little we hear from the French, US Navy, and the NRC does not comfort me.
http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/11/ ... ehind.html


That is a rather bizarre link and pretty weak tea if you think it shows anything about plant safety.

It was all about standby generators. The author has problems because some of them are old. 30 years old in one case!!! The horror!!! I would expect that most of them were put in when the plant was built and have never been replaced. Why should they be?

In another he says that a generator had been sitting in the middle of the Susquehanna river and leaves it at that. On the bottom of the river? In storage on an island? On a docked ship or barge? He doesn't say but it would seem like it might make a difference.

I think he wants to give the impression that it was in the mud, underwater but since it was not, he just tries to leave the impression. At best it is sloppy writing, at worst is is dishonest.

In another place he states that standby generators have to come online under full load immediately with no warm up. Well, yeah, that is what they do. You would not want to do it every day but, if you'er lucky a standby generator will live its entire life without doing it once. So not a problem at all as far as I can see.

I get the impression that the author knows little about diesels and less about standby generators.

If that is the worst problem with nuclear plants, we are in even better shape than I had thought.

John Henry

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby DCB » Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:40 am

johnfajardohenry wrote:My problem is the misperception by many, mostly ill informed, that nuclear power plants are Hiroshimas waiting to happen. That is a question of education.

Its not a misperception. See Chernobyl. Also, Fukushima.
Japan’s watchdog Nuclear Regulation Authority announced Wednesday that a radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant was magnitudes more severe than previously thought,

Its not killing hundreds of thousands of people in one ghastly blast. But its still a disaster.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:42 pm

Congrats, johnfajardohenry, you hijacked your own thread.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby johnfajardohenry » Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:45 pm

DCB wrote:Its not killing hundreds of thousands of people in one ghastly blast. But its still a disaster.


I agree that it is a disaster. Not a nuclear disaster, though. Nobody has been harmed by any radiation from Fukyshima. There is a possible exception for some of the workers who went into the contaminated plant on the first days but even there it seems to be unclear on whether they received enough radiation to harm them.

Nobody has died from Fukyshima radiation or even been made sick.

How many people die in Japan's coal mines every year? How many people have died prematurely because of coal pollution? Not so many now but in the past.

How many people die in coal mining accidents in China? Thousands each year. (Cha-Cha says 20,000 which I have seen elsewhere but it seems high) How many people die prematurely because of the air pollution in China, much of it from coal? Scores of thousands each year.

Nuclear plants are not "safe", nothing ever is. After almost 60 years of large scale experience they certainly seem safer than than some of the alternatives.

John Henry

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby jman111 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:56 am

johnfajardohenry wrote:Nobody has been harmed by any radiation from Fukyshima.


Not everyone agrees with ol' JH.
Study: Fukushima Radiation Has Already Killed 14,000 Americans
Why is there so much dispute about the number of deaths which Fukushima could cause on the West Coast?

Because radiation safety standards are set based on the assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s – and that radioactive particles ingested into the body cause no more damage than radiation hitting the outside of the body.

However – in the real world – radiation affects small children much more than full-grown adults. And small particles of radiation – called “internal emitters” – which get inside the body are much more dangerous than general exposures to radiation.

As for me, I think the truth lies somewhere between these two claims.

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Re: Hiroshima Day

Postby Bludgeon » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:31 am

Image

I find myself wondering lately if most people would have the guts to be pacifists if they didn't have this ultimate fear of the bomb. I sort of hate to waste a good thought on a JH thread where he just spams everything until nobody wants to talk about it anymore, but what occurs to me is what is perhaps obvious to others, that the invention of this weapon has been a serious deterrent to large scale war between modern industrialized nations. Not that the idea had eluded me previously, more that I never took a step back and thought about the actual impact this deterrent has had on recent and modern history, as well as the 20th century.

You look at world history, it's hard to find a sustained reach of time where two or more of these major nations are not locked in military combat, especially during economic crisis such as the ones we and every other western nation are currently enduring. I hope there's never a war, but I keep asking myself, what's the difference between then and now? The answer may be self evident, but the implications are not. What are the practical implications of a military deterrent so strong that almost no cause for real war is worth it, to anyone?

This is the legacy of the Manhattan project.


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