Last Enola Gay crew member dies at 93

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Deleted96908

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I stood under the Hiroshima peace bell at ground zero many years ago and it was one of the spookiest moments of my life. That coupled to an ex Zero pilot drinking me under the table later that day.

Wondering if you've ever seen the Fog of War.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) - IMDb

In it, McNamara, ex US Sec of Defence, claims that US leaders would have been tried for war crimes for what they did in Japan, had the US lost the war.

chris
 

Dryce

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In it, McNamara, ex US Sec of Defence, claims that US leaders would have been tried for war crimes for what they did in Japan, had the US lost the war.

He's refering primarily to the B29 campaign against the Japanese cities - and not the dropping of the atomic bombs. People tend to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and forget that large areas of Japan's cities were razed by conventional bombing against which they eventually had very little defence.

I think it's poignant that the people involved in such a campaign do reflect on their actions.

I also think it's very poignant that the Japanese have tended not to pose such questions of themselves with regard to some of their questionable acts in China and SE Asia. I don't think had they been victors that they would have allowed any question of the proportionality or morality of their actions.
 

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He's refering primarily to the B29 campaign against the Japanese cities - and not the dropping of the atomic bombs. People tend to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and forget that large areas of Japan's cities were razed by conventional bombing against which they eventually had very little defence.

I think it's poignant that the people involved in such a campaign do reflect on their actions.

But not evidently enough to stop the secret carpet bombing of Cambodia under Nixon. :p Operation Menu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

quote :-

In his diary in March 1969, Nixon’s chief of staff, HR Haldeman, noted that the final decision to carpet bomb Cambodia ‘was made at a meeting in the Oval Office Sunday afternoon, after the church service’.
In his diary on 17 March 1969, Haldemann wrote:
Historic day. K[issinger]’s “Operation Breakfast” finally came off at 2:00 pm our time. K really excited, as is P[resident]
And the next day:
K’s “Operation Breakfast” a great success. He came beaming in with the report, very productive. A lot more secondaries than had been expected. Confirmed early intelligence. Probably no reaction for a few days, if ever.
The bombing began on the night of 18 March with a raid by 60 B-52 Stratofortress bombers, based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The target was Base Area 353, the supposed location of COSVN in the Fishhook. Although the aircrews were briefed that their mission was to take place in South Vietnam, 48 of the bombers were diverted across the Cambodian border and dropped 2,400 tons of bombs. The mission was designated Breakfast, after the morning Pentagon planning session at which it was devised.
Breakfast was so successful (in US terms) that General Abrams provided a list of 15 more known Base Areas for targeting. The five remaining missions and targets were: Lunch (Base Area 609), Snack (Base Area 351), Dinner (Base Area 352), Supper (Base Area 740), and Dessert (Base Area 350). SAC flew 3,800 B-52 sorties against these targets, and dropped 108,823 tons of ordnance during the missions. Due to the continued reference to gastronomic situations in the codenames, the entire series of missions was referred to as Operation Menu. Studies and Observations Group forward air controllers of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam provided 70 percent of the Menu bomb damage intelligence.
Nixon and Kissinger went to great lengths to keep the missions secret. The expansion of the US effort into "neutral" Cambodia was sure to cause serious debate in the US Congress, negative criticism in the media, and were sure to spark anti-war protests on US college campuses. In order to prevent this, an elaborate dual reporting system covering the missions had been formulated during the Brussels meeting between Nixon, Haig, and Colonel Sitton.
 
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Dryce

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But not evidently enough to stop the secret carpet bombing of Cambodia under Nixon. :p Operation Menu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Without arguing whether it was justified or not I would comment:

In terms of proportionality the razing of cities is on a rather different scale from razing remote jungle. A lot of the controversy on this is based on the fact that Cambodia was a (supposedly) neutral third party and that the bombing campaign was politically covert.

Again in terms of questioning both sides morality I wonder if the Vietnamese 'victors' in this campaign pose questions of their own actions in not only causing Cambodia to be dragged into the conflict but also their own actions in contribution to destabilising Cambodia and subsequent horrors under Pol Pot.

I would add that perception of Vietnam as a country in the west is different to the perception in SE Asia. I have friends who were in the Malaysian military back in the 70s and 80s and while Vietnam was not perceived as a threat by people in the west by that time it was considered a major threat by its near neighbours. Had the north-Vietnamese not been contained in the 60s then SE Asia would look very different today.
 
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Deleted96908

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He's refering primarily to the B29 campaign against the Japanese cities - and not the dropping of the atomic bombs. People tend to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and forget that large areas of Japan's cities were razed by conventional bombing against which they eventually had very little defence.

I think it's poignant that the people involved in such a campaign do reflect on their actions.

I also think it's very poignant that the Japanese have tended not to pose such questions of themselves with regard to some of their questionable acts in China and SE Asia. I don't think had they been victors that they would have allowed any question of the proportionality or morality of their actions.

Yes. Aware what it refers to - I was making the general observation that war victors, or should that be the most powerful, tend not to be be held accountable for their actions. Something Hitchens exposed brilliantly in the The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and Kershaw in, The End: Hitler's Germany - where he detailed the actions of the Soviets and less well known, the French as they swept through western Germany at the end of WW2.

But I take your general point although I'd add that, unlike Stalin and the Gulag, where there was widespread rewriting of newspapers, to reflect the party line, the Japanese had nowhere to hide. What they did in Nanking and later to the allied prisoners under their control, could not be hidden.

Whereas, surprisingly, according to Ryan, The Last Battle, and Taylor, Exorcising Hitler, a large number of post war Germans were very slow to acknowledge what had taken place under Hitler, with the occupying forces turning a blind eye as relatively high ranking Nazis began to occupy positions of influence in the late 40s and early to mid 50s. Fortunately that practice died out with the incumbents.


Edit: - Apologies Grober. Our posts crossed. Acknowledging your well placed comment. Chris
 
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And while we are on the razing of cities Bombing of Dresden in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the end it always comes down to the motivation behind such actions. They are always justified at the time in terms of their "military advantage" but subsequent analysis reveals they are often ineffective militarily and a different strategy would have been more effective in ending any conflict.
Which then does pose the question was it a thinly disguised attempt to subdue the enemy's will to fight by the mass killing of their non combatants. I guess it then depends on whether you see that as a justifiable tactic of war. In reality as has been said how its finally regarded depends on whether you are on the winning side or not? The dilemma continues to this day with the present conflict in the Gazza strip :(
 

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And while we are on the razing of cities Bombing of Dresden in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the end it always comes down to the motivation behind such actions.

My gut feel is that it's not just about motivation but capability once industrialised economies adjust and ramp up to fight at this level.

Once one of the participants starts to badly deplete there is the potential to unleash an overspill of force. Eg. You have a well developed strategic bomber force, you have an enemy with depleted defences, the relative cost of attacking a target decreases while the capability against it increases.

Moral?

I think there is one. And it's the one that people totally miss. And it's simple in principle: Know when to surrender.

(It's simple - like everything else - only in principle and with hindsight. In practice it's not. And it can be complicated to even try - even at the end Japan underwent a failed coup by those who wanted to continue).
 

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The problem often is that those "in charge" on the losing side [ who have most to loose/ maybe face international criminal charges post conflict] who could initiate a surrender are the well fed guys safe in the concrete bunker while the rest of poor starving b*****s have to shelter under a table in a tin shed while the bombs/shells rain down. One can only hope that those doing the bombing/shelling are cognisent of that reality.
 
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Moral?

I think there is one. And it's the one that people totally miss. And it's simple in principle: Know when to surrender.

Agreed, although I think it's more complex than that and the debate as to why Hitler's immediate subordinates did not advocate surrender in late 44, early 45, rages on. The view held by many academics, is that the von Staufenberg plot actually prolonged the war as it resulted in a regathering of support for Hitler. By way of example, thousands of front line troops held collections for Hitler on hearing of the bomb plot and there's censor evidence of soldiers writing back to their wives, apologising for not sending money home, stating that Hitler's need was greater.

Meanwhile, the hapless Ribbentrop (hopelessly outmanoeuvred by Molotov in the pre war years) tried to negotiate with Stalin via a Russian diplomat in Sweden, but, due to his lack of credibility, it led to nothing. Hitler was aware of this, and whilst on the surface, (earshot of others) condemned the attempt, may well have secretly hoped for its success. A distinct change from the death warrant passed on Hess due to his similar efforts earlier in the war.

All along of course, Hitler and his cronies, were hoping for a breakdown of relationships between the Soviets and the West (advocated by Churchill and neo cons in the US, but crucially, not Roosevelt). And when the German annexation documents were leaked from Yalta (Germany to be split initially between Soviet, US and UK, and latterly France too), this seemed less likely. Although hope was rekindled when FDR died, with Goebbels (from memory) waking Hitler in the middle of the night with the news - citing providence and how Germany had previously benefitted from the untimely death of a Russian royal, in an earlier conflict.

Additionally, many of Hitler's 1200+ generals, had money in the 'game'. They knew that defeat and surrender meant their almost certain death. Immaterial of whether they were shot ad hoc if serving in the east, or by trial if captured in the west. The same was true for civilians living in the east. They, generally, wanted the war to continue at all costs, well aware of what awaited.

From a logistical perspective, the Germans were able to continue with the war, largely because of the mobilisation of millions of factory workers, replaced in part by foreign workers. Couple this to the efforts of Albert Speer, who as Minister for Armaments, kept Germany mobilised for far longer than the Allies expected. Ironically, many claim it was the lack of coal that hit first, not lack of weapons, and that was largely because of the loss of territory and not the efforts of Harris. Although many continue to argue the accuracy of this last point.
 
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Just a few comments:

1. Japan's cities were fire-bombed to devastating effect due to the light construction and flammable materials used in houses and buildings.

2. Speaking to Japanese people, they have a complex relationship with the events of WWII. They are not unapologetic, but see things through different eyes. One example is that they refuse to apologise for the treatment of POWs because they claim that they treated all prisoners equally at the time - including Japanese deserters - and did not single out British troops. But as we are all aware this is still an unresolved issue as far as the UK is concerned.

3. Speaking to some young Germans... I heard the worrying opinion that Germany deserved every condemnation from the victors and all of the post-war measures imposed on Germany because... they lost the war. But not because they did anything wrong in the first place. Setting aside the race theory which young Germans do reject, they say that Hitler's expansion of Germany was no different to what Napoleon or Queen Victoria and King George did before him. Luckily not all young Germans think this way.

4. 'Secondaries' refers to secondary explosions - i.e. after the bombs dropped hit munitions stores, and it is generally considered proof that the bombing was justified in the first place. Keeping in mind that (in spite of recent events in the news), it is not actually a war crime if civilians get hurt while military or strategic target is being attacked. There are recent disagreements about what constitues a reasonable civilian casualty toll, but this is a separate discussion.

5. As always, and as has been said on this forum before... it can be very difficult judging historical events by today's moral and legal standards.
 

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many claim it was the lack of coal that hit first, not lack of weapons, and that was largely because of the loss of territory and not the efforts of Harris. Although many continue to argue the accuracy of this last point.

I disagree.

But was it not oil that was the issue - and in particularly the attacks by USAAF and RAF on the fuel conversion plants generating synthetic oil products from coal that were effective. There was a sustained and effective effort against these facilities that had a growing impact through 1944.

Not only did it deplete production and severely restrict military supplies but it also drew in huge amounts of labour and resource to build, repair, and rebuild facilities.

It's kind of fashionable to knock strategic bombing and in particular Bomber Command's efforts - I think that many people drastically underestimate just what the RAF achieved. The Russians were nowhere near as effective on the ground (or industially) as the historical fashionistas believe - and were much much more dependent on USAAF and RAF strategic campaigns than they will ever admit.
 
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Deleted96908

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I disagree.

That's the great thing about history isn't it? We read. We conclude. We debate.

But was it not oil that was the issue - and in particularly the attacks by USAAF and RAF on the fuel conversion plants generating synthetic oil products from coal that were effective. There was a sustained and effective effort against these facilities that had a growing impact through 1944.

Yes, evidently, but perhaps equally, the Romanian coup and subsequent loss of Romanian oil was hard felt and Speer in memos to Hitler, claimed that production efficiency continued to rise, offsetting many of the losses from damaged factories.

Even so clearly, Germany was suffering from the bombing, but I think the issue, as argued by Hitchens v A.C Grayling (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3doYSqBWhZI), is whether loss of production:

a/ warranted the loss of life from bombing

b/ actually contributed to the acceleration of the war's end over and above other difficulties, including the interference of Hitler in the tactics of defending the Vistula against the Soviets and the Rhine against the western forces.


Not only did it deplete production and severely restrict military supplies but it also drew in huge amounts of labour and resource to build, repair, and rebuild facilities.


It did, but the Germany mobilisation machine, 'found' in late 44/45 millions of men and women that been hiding behind the vanities of many senior Nazis, working a comfy existence in the ministries of 'Golden Pheasants'. And that's not to mention the mobilisation of the Volkssturm, which although largely ineffective, did have the effect of suggesting to the public, aided by Goebbels, that all was not lost, and victory would yet be theirs'.

It's kind of fashionable to knock strategic bombing and in particular Bomber Command's efforts - I think that many people drastically underestimate just what the RAF achieved. The Russians were nowhere near as effective on the ground (or industially) as the historical fashionistas believe - and were much much more dependent on USAAF and RAF strategic campaigns than they will ever admit.

I think the bombing debate is largely an emotional one. Ask any WW2 mother from my home town in Portsmouth, if the bombing was justified and they'd think of their numerous lost ones, the destruction of their city, and say yes. And who could blame them. But that doesn't make it right.

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