Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. Although the cold snap that has held the Tampa Bay area in a vise grip throughout the long Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday weekend is easing off and the temperature is 70°F/21°C, I am still having trouble coping with the chilly weather and that annoying cold that’s keeping me under the weather.
I was hoping, of course, to write the long-planned review of Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb, a 1995 non-fiction book by Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar.
Operation Downfall, which would have consisted of two separate suboperations (Operation Olympic, the invasion of southern Kyushu, scheduled to begin on November 1, 1945; and Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshu, tentatively scheduled for March 1, 1946) was going to be the final war-winning campaign in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
Even as the Manhattan Engineering Project strove to design and build the world’s first nuclear weapons, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff created a Joint War Planning Committee (JWPC) to plan a conventional invasion of the Japanese Home Islands – a daunting prospect in 1943, partly because America’s Orange war plan (the contingency plan in case war broke out between the U.S. and Japan) favored either a naval blockade or an air campaign that would force the enemy to sue for peace, and partly because Japan had never been successfully invaded by an outside nation.
As pointed out in the three books that I have about this fascinating aspect of the end of World War II, the most senior commanders of the American military establishment were not pinning all of their hopes on the scientists, engineers, and explosives experts working on the Manhattan Project; in 1943, when the JWPC began preliminary planning for Downfall, no one was sure if the bomb would be ready by the time Germany was defeated, or even if the damned thing would work as designed.
And because the Allies, mostly instigated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, insisted that the only terms they’d accept from the Axis (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan) were unconditional surrender, the one sure way to defeat Japan was to land a large, mostly American force on the Home Islands, and occupy Tokyo, thereby ensuring that the Japanese people would know they had been defeated on their own soil.
I am not going to get more into this topic, as I’m a bit tired and not exactly at my best. Suffice it to say that if Downfall had somehow been necessary, either one of its two components – Olympic and Coronet – would have dwarfed the Normandy landings in both scale and complexity. And even though critics of President Harry S. Truman’s decision to drop the bomb on Japan in August of 1945 say otherwise, an invasion of Japan would have been catastrophic for both Japan and the United States in terms of lives lost, including among the warriors on both sides and Japan’s civilian population.
Those critics, many of whom are liberals who were born after World War II, don’t understand that while the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused lots of destruction and killed many people, the quicker ending of the war – without the U.S. resorting to Downfall – spared many millions more lives – on both sides.
As I said earlier, I was hoping to write the review of Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb; I’ve obviously been thinking about the topic, and I think I can do it – but only when I’m not distracted by the symptoms of a minor but still annoying cold.
My plan for the rest of the day is to try and relax for a while. If I didn’t feel so icky I would go out for a walk, but even though it’s not bitterly cold outside, my colds have a tendency to worsen in wintertime, even down here in the subtropics. I guess I’ll either watch something on TV or read for a while – I need to stop sitting at my desk all day in front of a computer – and since I do have lots of movies, TV shows, and books here, at least I can entertain myself that way.
Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, healthy, and warm, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.
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