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The U.S. and Japan: Partners in Historical Falsification via Huffington Post

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We placed the August 1945 atomic bombings at the center of our analysis of the postwar U.S. empire. The atomic monopoly gave the U.S. the confidence to impose its will on the rest of the world. Following the bombings, U.S. officials moved to quickly propound a narrative that justified these barbaric acts — a narrative that bore little resemblance to the truth. So the public was told that the bombs were mercifully dropped on the fanatic Japanese to end the war as rapidly as possible, avoiding an invasion that would have, according to Truman, cost a half million American lives. The U.S. had no choice. The act was not only justified, it was humane. Just think of all those Japanese who would have also died in an invasion.

This version of history left out a few inconvenient facts. Japan was already on its last legs and had been searching for an acceptable surrender formula since May. General Douglas MacArthur, who joined Generals Eisenhower and Arnold and Admirals Leahy King, and Nimitz in disavowing the bombings, later insisted that the Japanese would have surrendered in May if the U.S. had offered guarantees about preserving the emperor. Intercepted Japanese cables affirmed this fact. Truman described the July 18 cable as “the telegram from the Jap emperor asking for peace.” Truman also knew that the Soviet Union was about to come into the war and that the Soviet invasion was what the Japanese most dreaded. In May, Japan’s Supreme War Council declared, “Soviet entry into the war will deal a death blow to the Empire.” At Potsdam, Truman got confirmation that the Soviets were about to enter the Pacific War and wrote, “Fini Japs when that comes about.” He told his wife that the war would end a year sooner now. On July 6, 1945, the Combined Intelligence Committee reported, “An entry of the Soviet Union into the war would finally convince the Japanese of the inevitability of complete defeat.”

The August 9 Soviet invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria spelled the beginning of a very rapid end to the war. Later that day, the U.S. destroyed Nagasaki. To the Japanese leaders, this callous and terrifying act did not represent something fundamentally new. The U.S. had been firebombing and destroying Japanese cities since March — over 100 in total. Hiroshima and Nagasaki added two more to the list. But it was the Soviet invasion that convinced Prime Minister Suzuki and others that they had better surrender to the Americans while they still had the chance rather than to the Soviets. The atomic bombings were an attempt by the U.S. to get the war over with before the Soviets invaded and received the spoils the Allies had promised them at Yalta and, even more consequential to human history, they were an attempt to demonstrate to the Soviets, who were well aware of Japanese desperation to end the war, that the U.S. could be completely ruthless in defending its “interests.”

It took extraordinary dexterity, a lapdog media, and an unquestioning educational establishment to turn this tale of viciousness into one of American benevolence, but Truman and his defenders managed to pull it off, leaving untrammeled the sanctification of WWII as a “good” war (it was certainly a necessary one) and the myth of American exceptionalism — the story of freedom-loving America’s unique goodness and altruistic willingness to sacrifice for others.

Read more at The U.S. and Japan: Partners in Historical Falsification

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