Today, March 8, 2020 marks 75th anniversary of the beginning of the end of World War II in the Pacific. That day in 1944 was four years and three months since Pearl Harbor had been attacked. It was also the day that 38 year old Major General Curtis LeMay ordered 346 B-29 bombers to drop incendiaries that burned down more than 16 square miles of Tokyo. The raid caused more casualties than the atomic bombs cause at either Hiroshima of Nagasaki.
Warren Kozak, author of a biography of LeMay, writes in today’s Wall Street Journal that
“If this sounds shocking to contemporary ears, consider the context. … the Japanese fought even more ferociously on Iwo Jima and later Okinawa. The war in the Pacific was turning into an out-of-control bloodbath. The only way to stop this mass death-and prevent a prolonged guerrilla war following the largest invasion in history-was to force the empire to surrender by destruction from the air.
“The U.S. would have to firebomb 64 Japanese cities, capped off by the two atomic bombs in August 1945, to end World War II. In the tragic calculus of war, it took the deaths of untold numbers of human beings to save the lives of even more. These are brutal realities few people today can imagine, let alone confront.”
Today, the United States has been fighting endless wars in the Middle East. There may be military ways to end this mayhem, but no leaders have had the will, mainly because of fear of political repercussions, partly real but mostly imagined. Witness the wailing and sniveling from certain quarters when the President orders the elimination of a terrorist mastermind – successfully, it might be added. (During the Pacific War, President Roosevelt ordered the Navy to kill Admiral Isoroko Yamamoto, the Pearl Harbor mastermind, which was greeted with general applause).
To paraphrase British Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris, after Iwo Jima and Okinawa, all the cities of Japan and their inhabitants were not worth the life of an American soldier, sailor, or marine.
For those interested please see https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-the-u-s-won-world-war-ii-without-invading-japan-11583698141?mod=opinion_lead_pos10