RTyp06 wrote:If I remember correctly, Hiroshima had an estimated 50k killed instantly and Nagasaki was another 20k. And that's not considering the thousands of Japanese that suffered and died in the months and years following the attacks. Such instantaneous loss of life is hard to envision and the bombings hard to justify given the state of Japan at that point of the war.
I wouldn't discount other historical possibilities
so easily. An amphibious invasion of Japan (the most likely outcome without a prior surrender) would have been one of the bloodiest military operations in history, with total casualties on all sides likely to reach into the *millions*.
Indeed, I am not discounting the defenders of the American decision to drop the bombs. The decision remains controversial, even today. I have heard the argument that the bombs ultimately saved many more lives than they took and knew about the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland. However the critics have some good arguments as well and in my view have the better position, even if only slightly so.
Japan was weeks away from surrender already and their ability to wage war was decimated before the bombs were even dropped. The constant conventional fire bombing of Japanese cities and infrastructure by allied forces coupled with Russia sweeping Japanese forces out of occupied China were enough to guarantee surrender in many people's view.
America did not want to split up Japan with Russia like what happened in Germany and wanted to facilitate a timely, unconditional surrender. Thus the decision has a political element that cannot be ignored. We simply couldn't tolerate to possibility of Japan surrendering to Russia, especially considering the massive effort American forces put forth in the Pacific theater.
All things considered, I personally don't believe such massive civilian casualties were necessary and surrender was inevitable without a full scale invasion of the Japanese mainland.