tv Washington Journal Ian Toll CSPAN August 6, 2020 4:17pm-5:16pm EDT
texts, take your calls, facebook questions and tweets. at 4:00 p.m. eastern on of therica, the effects atomic bombs in 1000 cranes documenting the origins of hiroshima's peace park. at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the 70 fit anniversary of a conference where the new president henry truman and from winston churchill of england and stalin of the soviet union about the new u.s. super weapon. exploit the american story, watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. >> -- is an often independent scholar and specific war historian in a set release his latest publication and latest war "twilight of the gods:
in the pacific." welcome to "washington journal." washington journal on the 75th anniversary. guest: thank you. i am glad to be here. host: we have heard from harry truman after the hiroshima bombing. from your research and the study of the war and the bombings in particular, why did harry truman do it? i think the decision to use the bomb was really implicit in the manhattan project, so it was really assumed from the time, for the time truman came to office in ,pril after the death of fdr that this weapon, if it worked, it would be used. so it may be more accurate to say that there was a nondecision essentially. truman did not decide to projecte, to stop a that was very much entrained
when he came into office. the assumption had been made that if we had built the bomb, if we had the bomb, we would use the bomb in order to bring the war to an end, but i think from the perspective we have now that the atomic bomb, you know, is different, essentially different, from general weapon, that is something we have with hindsight. for truman and his advisers in the summer of 1945, i do not think that was as clear to them that the atomic bomb was fundamentally different from conventional bombings, and we had already essentially wiped out an enormous percentage of japan's urban areas with conventional bombing at incendiary rates. so using the atomic bomb, in their view at that time, did not seem like sort of a break or departure from what they had been doing already. it is really with hindsight that we understand that webbing to be something basically different,
in a different category. host: is it true when harry truman assumed the presidency in 1940 fiveeath that, one, harry truman did not know anything about the manhattan project, and two, how did he learn about it in the space of less than four short months? how did you become confident in his decision to use this weapon? true he wasit is not briefed on the manhattan project. he had been vaguely aware there is a very large and secret and expensive project underway. in the senate, for he was put on the ticket as fdr's presidential 1944, the thing that really made his name in the senate was he chaired a committee which investigated corruption and waste in the new nations industries, called the truman committee. in his capacity as chairman of that investigative senate
abouttee, he had learned these enormous plants being built in tennessee and washington state, and he had begun to use his investigative resources to try and determine what was happening there. stimsony simpson, henry -- secretary stimson, harry stimson, secretary of war, he went to truman and said, we are doing something very secret and we would ask you not to inquire further. truman agreed. very suddenly with fdr's death and when he was elevated to the presidency, he was reefed on stimson and by james burns -- he was briefed i stimson and james burns -- by stimson and james burns. he was fully briefed within about 24 hours from assuming the presidency on the state of the manhattan project. host: it is the 75th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima.
we are talking about it with ian toll, whose new book is coming out in september, "twilight of the gods: more on the weston pacific, knight -- western pacific, 1944-1955." the lines the same as they were last hour, mountain and pacific, (202)-748-8001. easton, (202)-748-8000. for those who are world war ii veterans or family, (202)-748-8002. and our line for japanese-americans, (202)-748-8003. ian toll, one of the questions that came up a couple of times last hour is why didn't the u.s. do some sort of demonstration of the bomb to show the japanese its power instead of actually using it on a city? mean, i think that is a hard question. view, the really hard questions when it comes to the atomic bomb is not so much should we have used the bomb or not, given the circumstances in
the summer of 1945, the urgent need to end the war quickly without invasion, and in those circumstances, using the bomb i think was defensible. dropping it on a city is a different question, and i think i am in the minority among military historians and this is a preference i had, that i would like to see the weapon used against a military target. the questions of demonstrations have been raised. there are arguments that a demonstration would have backfired, number one, and if it had not worked, that was a possibility, it would redouble japanese determination to resist. i do think there would be a way to demonstrate the bomb without running into that problem, dropping it very high in the atmosphere, off the coast, say ,f tokyo, of the tokyo bay
would have made an enormous flash and send a message to japanese. i do not think that would have prompted a rapid surrender. so, the reason that you might have done that really is abstract, an abstract reason. and you do it because in the enhance the may country's moral standings. i do think that is important, but you have some callers who have fathers or grandfathers in the war and for american veterans, particularly those who would have invaded japan, the atomic bomb has never been an abstraction to them but something real. it is something they believe saves their lives, and that belief is it something i think we need to acknowledge and respect. that is essentially where i come out. came back, i would have liked to see the bomb used infinitely,
particularly not dropped on a city, the first one dropped on a military target. i think that would have been more defensible. host: was there any military or rvs in any ofed those cities? guest: yes, hiroshima had an important regional military headquarters. stationed inmy was hiroshima. it had been an army town going back to the days of the samurai. so it was an important military target in hiroshima. for city was not chosen that reason, however. none of the four cities on the target list of the bombs, hiroshima, nagasaki, near the sea of japan, and the northern tip of the island. those cities had not been chosen because of their military
character, and the military installations that were in those cities were not specified as the aiming points for the bomb. the cities were chosen because they had been relatively unscathed at conventional bombing raids, and the idea was he wanted to drop the bomb on a city that had the topography and conditions that it would provide the greatest demonstration to the bomb's power. yes? host: finisher.. guest: yak -- finish your thought. guest: yes, so it became true that it was an important army base in hiroshima. in the clip you played from president truman, upon announcing the first atomic bomb, he said we hit an important japanese army base. host: right. guest: hiroshima was the seventh largest city in japan with the base in it, so, you know, i think looking back with 75 years
of perspective, in that situation, he would prefer the president of the united states look into the eye of the camera until the world exactly what we had done without missing words -- mincing words or using that. host: before we get to calls, was there a third bomb ready to be drop in case the japanese did not surrender? bomb would have become available by the end of august, so on august 6, we had hiroshima. on august 9, we hit nagasaki. it would have been another two weeks to three weeks for the third bomb. host: ian toll is our guest. first call is carlsberg richmond, virginia. caller: good morning -- call is carl in richmond, virginia. caller: good morning. it is very interesting and you hear about why they dropped the bomb. attackad pulled a sneak we did notrbor, and
even know the war was going to start as soon as the war was declared, and japan did not do that. what happened when the bomb did notvailable, truman know thing about it. all you knew was he became president. they do not really like him, and they put it to him and said, look, we have this mom. to me, you cannot drop an atomic bomb and say, let's drop it tomorrow or next week. they had already planned for the bomb. what trumanooks at wasto say because he changing his words that the united states is going to drop the bomb. host: do you think the president had a say in that? guest: absolutely. the constitution confers
virtuallyowers, unlimited power, as commander-in-chief and wartime -- in more. truman had the power to tell his weinet and military leaders will or will not use the bomb, we will use the bomb in the following way, so i do not think there was any question that he had the power to make the decision. i do think it is true, as charles said, that the motorboat revenge was in the mix. i think that was may, not the reason we used a weapon, but it context, did set the the sneak attack on pearl harbor, the japanese atrocities against civilians, the treatment of prisoners of war. those are all factors that played into the decision to use the atomic and burn down
japanese cities with incendiary bombing rates. yes, truman certainly could have simply decided and would not have had to ask for position or ask is military chiefs to take a vote he could have simply said we are not going to hit a city, or we are going to explicitly warned the japanese we have this weapon. in his private diary on july 25, it was a strange entry where he actually says "i have instructed secretary stimson to use this weapon against military targets, and not against women and children, and i have also instructed him that we will make an explicit warning to the japanese and telling them to surrender." he did not give that order, but in his diary, he seems to have believed it or perhaps he wanted to have future historians believe that the whole decision
had been made differently. certainly, he had the power. one of the fascinating counterfactual questions is if fdr had lived, how would have fdr decided to use the bomb? he certainly would not have hesitated at all to make his own decision. he was accustomed to doing that. host: let's hear from anthony in new york on our line for world war ii veterans and family. caller: good morning. i am calling for my father and his two brothers. my father went in the army in february of 1941. he fought in the philippines, hiroshima, and he was also an open hour, and he was also in the occupation of japan. wecame home late 1946, but never really found out -- he never really talked about the war until he got older. he was against them dropping the bomb. then he says if we would have
had a fight, fight them and invade japan, i probably never would have came home. so it was a flip of a coin. if i had to make that decision, i would say, yeah. one was in normandy, a paratrooper in the 101. my other uncle was also a medic. so those people from that generation, they fought hard and they fought for our country. when i talk about my father and his brothers, i am proud of them because that is something today we may not be able to do. host: ian toll, on your book on one of the planned invasions, part of the planned invasion of japan, is that figure anticipated of one million u.s. casualties fairly accurate in terms of across-the-board? is that from your research, as well? well, no. if the question is at the time that we were planning operation
downfall, operation olympic was the first stage. that was the invasion of southern island in japan. at the time, our military leaders were planning that operation, there was never a point at which they projected casualties on the order of one million. there has been quite a lot of work done on this by historians and researchers because of how often you hear that figure that we might have lost a million or half a million. the answer seems to be the casualty projections were significantly lower than that. it is a disputed point, and they were different ways of thinking about it. our militaryid leaders, while planning that operation, at what point did they expect something in the order of one million casualties, but projections were much lower. maybe as many as 200 for total casualties. now, that does not really tell us much about the atomic on decision.
it wouldt say, well, have been lower, so we should that invaded. i think invading would have been a disaster, regardless of the casualties we would have taken. so avoiding a bloody invasion of japan was absolutely essential. that is why i think using the atomic was inevitable. as i say, using it against a city was a different question. i do not think we should have dropped it. that is my preference, my belief. mentioned, there are so many people in this country who have fathers, ran fathers, great, uncles who were veterans of that war and who really believe their lives were on the line. that is something that i respect very deeply. it is interesting that the caller said, i think it was his
father, had been in japan with the occupation after the war. and his personal belief had been that we should not have dropped the atomic bomb. i really interesting phenomenon when you look at veterans from the pacific war, those in japan after the war with the occupying forces, they tended to have a much more nuanced view of the japanese. many of them came to like the japanese generally as a people. they were more ready to make the distinction between the way the fighting forces had behaved through the war, and the way the japanese people are in general. we were more than willing to make that distinction because of the personal exposure they had had to japan and the japanese in the nation of japan after the war. host: on our line for japanese-americans, (202)-748-8003. on that line, in los angeles, scott. caller: good morning. i am half japanese.
my father was drafted in world war ii. my grandfather was drafted by the japanese army. whenp seeing every year they talk about pearl harbor that america was attacked unprovoked, which is not true. truman said on that clip that he has shown them like said on pearlll, that they bombed harbor unprovoked. that is not true. under thelying tigers president, and until 1996, when i think it was either reagan or acknowledged the flying tigers were part of the military to get the v.a. benefits and it did show that awg was under military payment from the united states government through a company. this japaneseing
unprovoked attack when that is not true. i am not saying that the war was not a bad thing. it was a terrible thing on what it did to china, russia, philippines, to the americans and the people who ended up fighting with them, they were terrible things that happen. host: scott, we will get a response from ian toll. think theh, well, i count against the japanese for the way they began the war was not so much that it was an unprovoked attack. yes, fdr said it was unprovoked in his speech in congress the day following the attack, but there was no formal declaration of war prior to the attack. the idea of this sneak attack or surprise attack that really know,ated americans, you the attack had been planned undercover of diplomatic talks.
we were engaged in negotiations directly with the japanese government to try and adjust the differences we had in the pacific. that attack suddenly defended on pearl harbor without declaration of war. i think that played into the particular brutality of the pacific war. scott did not say what his ,ather did when he was drafted but i think one of the most interesting stories about the pacific war and little heard is the role of japanese-americans who worked as interpreters or language officers who helped develop propaganda messages to a method japanese. it was an essential role in places like okinawa, the heroism of the japanese american soldiers who went down to the caves and negotiated with japanese voices, trying to encourage them to surrender.
it was enormous personal risk. that is one of the greatest stories of the pacific war that is not familiar to people. host: pitching in maryland. ind morning -- jean maryland, on our line for veterans. caller: i was 12 years old when we declared war on the japanese. i was the youngest of five children, three brothers and a sister, all inactive duty in the military. one person ass, one family, we love truman's decision. my two brothers were in combat in the navy in the pacific, one a navy fuel tanker. both had close calls with death. i will never forget how my mother was absolutely terrified every time the telephone rang for about the last four months
of the war. a second reason, and this is personal for myself, i am sorry, but the way japanese treated prisoners. my sister was a nurse at a hospital. there were 10 nurses. navy,nted to stay in the and she wanted to get married in october of 1941, and as a naval officer, she was not allowed to stay in the navy. she had to leave the navy to get married. and she used to come out to our home to play tennis, and they were full of life. they were just -- i will say this, they were part of the death march, and after the war, my sister called the supervisor and asked what happened to those young ladies, nine of them. went insane.d two
they did not have medicine for what those goals went through. so there is one other fact, and this one i have never heard mentioned. i think it may be true. that the people killed in the hiroshima bomb were not all japanese. i believe in hiroshima, and killed by that bomb were more than 25,000 korean slave workers. and i think it is also true nagasaki. wereat true that there tens of thousands of slave workers who were killed in these bombings? it is never mentioned. host: ian? guest: yes, it is true. it is true. there were. i do not know but was 20,000, but it sounds like it might be about the right number of koreans who were working in hiroshima. you know, an enormous number of
koreans. to a lesser extent, chinese were told in the atomic bombings, as well as the conventional bombing raids. also, there were others in japan . almost 1% of the population of japan during the second world war had been christians or were christians. some of them were secretly christians. so christianity had a foothold in japan going back several centuries because of the gesso at missionaries who had come from jekyll and spain -- just do missionaries who had come from portugal and spain. some of the most harrowing stories appear oshima came from priests who were european or hiroshima came from priests who are european or german. i would not say they were international, but to the extent they were foreigners living in japan, they tended to be in the
large cities, so they were affected in both bombs. host: whether any american pows in either city to mark -- either city? guest: yes, they were pows in the area of hiroshima and nagasaki. the number of personal accounts about theirhe war having witnessed the bombings. there were even pows who believed they had heard or seen a flash in hiroshima and nagasaki, who gives you some idea of how far away they could see and hear these explosions. host: next is frank in lexington, north carolina. caller: good morning. thank you for letting me speak. i am calling in for my father. i had his new testament he carried and made notes and during his service made notes. he was a navy serviceman
attached to the marine corps. this is the aftermath of the dropping of the bomb. , september, japan 16, 1945.he had been training for the invasion. september in japan 22, 1945. sasebo, japan, is the seaport next to or inland. there, twofter being weeks after being there, and he was on both sides of at least from the veterans administration of information, he talked to me some about treating the people who had been survivors. within two weeks, his soul unit got -- his whole unit got deathly sick. halfwaypoint, they were
,etween hiroshima and nagasaki which as his surviving son, my father passed away at age 541977. and all of his siblings -- at age 54 in 1977. all of his siblings lived a ripe age. whenis day, i believe that his whole unit was exposed, i think that was part of the reason for his premature death. he was questioned poorly by doctors -- thorley by doctors about his cancer and service in japan in 1977. my mother was a registered nurse, so he was asked a lot of questions. i was about 10 years old and i asked my father, i had heard the word armageddon at sunday school, i asked him about it and he said, son, i have already been there. you never want to see it. host: ian toll, your thoughts? guest: well, yes, of course, if
you want to talk about how the atomic bomb was different from conventional bombings, radiation is one of the first things you consider. was the chairman of the joint chiefs after the war left a scathing passage in the postwar memoir, saying he thought it had been a moral trust to drop this weapon on a city, and it was this revelation that this was a poison weapon and he said he did not understand that until the bomb was dropped, and of course, you have the radiation whitening. i think our government and that general macarthur's commander after the war, they suppressed really all discussion of this issue of radiation, and they did so in a way that allowed some of our own serviceman to be
exposed, which i think is really a great disgrace that we allowed our own forces to be exposed in notshima and nagasaki, allowing them to fully understand the risks involved in radiation. was his thing he said dad was a navy corpsman. they were, really the most heroic people on the battlefields. they exposed themselves directly to enemy fire to treat wounded on the battlefield and to pull wounded off the fields to safety and suffered some of the highest casualty rates in places like iwo jima and okinawa. host: ian toll is our guest, the hisor of the trilogy of latest and published book in september "twilight of the gods:
war in the western pacific, 1944-1945." we welcome your calls and comments. (202)-748-8000 eastern and central time zones. (202)-748-8001, mountain and pacific. for those of you who are world war ii veterans or their families, use the line (202)-748-8002. and for japanese-americans, (202)-748-8003. ian toll, there is a photo in the book, and i think we have shown video of what part of tokyo was like after repeated fire bombings of that city. why did the u.s. not continue with that? it appears to be equally as destructive of photos and video we see of nagasaki and hiroshima. firebombingsthe were continuing right up until the end of the war. we were still running conventional bombing raids over japan even after nagasaki.
as you say, those incendiary bombing rates most likely if you take all of the incendiary and conventional bombing rates of japanese cities, the number of japanese civilians killed in those conventional bombing attacks exceeded the number killed in hiroshima and nagasaki. firebombing or enormous firebombing in tokyo occurred on the night of arch 10 and 11th, 1940 5 -- march 10 and 11th, 1945. it is hard to say how many were killed, partly because the government records were destroyed. and you had people moving in and out of the city during that time of war. you can only really vaguely estimate how many people were killed. almost everyone in the japanese government who studied the issue believes it was at least 100000 and it could have and like 50,000 possibly. it is conceivable in one night
firebombing rate that you had more people -- grade that you had more people killed in hiroshima and nagasaki combined initially if you do not count deaths from radiation afterwards. so the scales of these firebombing raids wasn't norma's. i think that was partly the reason -- was enormous. i think that was partly the reason of the assumptions of the reason we would drop the bombs on cities was not challenged by truman or his advisors because there was this feeling that we had already taken this step to start essentially attacking the japanese population centers from the air. host: let's hear from salt lake city. good knee. caller: good morning -- good morning. caller: good morning. my father fought in world war ii. because of that, i have always been extremely interested in american history and specifically world war ii.
all the documentaries i have been able to find. i have cable television and access to audio channels -- 240 channels.- to 40 or inot have the education don't know what else to say about this gentleman you have had on here before, but i would like to say that i am from kansas city and i have been to the truman and eisenhower libraries, and it is my humble opinion based on these documentaries i have watched if they had not invaded japan, they would have thought as with everything they had. even textbooks. anything they could put their nail.on, tooth and
every step of the way. how prepared where the japanese for an invasion? guest: how prepared with -- were they? at that point, japanese strength was down to its last drop. it is true, as the caller says that the japanese were essentially pouring all of their remaining strength, their military strength and their civilian population, they were preparing to meet the invasion and to fight us tooth and nail, as she says. the women and children were even organized into militias and being trained how to fight with spears, being told to use kitchen knives if necessary. i think avoiding an invasion of
japan was absolutely critical. i think it was so critical that if it was really you could say the choice was to bomb two cities with an atomic bomb or launch a bloody invasion, it was one of the other commodore a or door b, i think that was true, that using the bombs exactly the way we did, hitting cities without warning, i do think you could defend that. the traditional way in which americans have understood the atomic, is it sets up this kind of forced binary, where you have to choose either hit these cities without warning, or launch an invasion. i personally do not think that is right. i think there were many other options other than just those two. i think you can make a pretty good case and it may be counterfactual that an invasion
would not have been necessary with or without the atomic bombs. keep in mind that the invasion, the first stage of the planned invasion, the target date was november 1, almost three months after the bombing of hiroshima, so, the idea that the bombs were a last resort to an invasion was just about to happen, that is not quite right. as i say, veterans of that war had their own strongly held beliefs about what had happened at the end of the war. as a historian, as someone who has interviewed literally hundreds of world war ii veterans, i have never made it a practice to argue with world war ii veterans about this. i present my views, but i think it is important to recognize and to honor the feelings, the strong feelings that veterans
have about the subject. host: "twilight of the gods" is your third in the trilogy. how many years have you worked on that trilogy? guest: a longtime. 14 years i would say. host: phil is next in california. go ahead. caller: thank you for taking my call. i am 80 years old. my grandfather was in the air corps and served at wheeler field on december 7. my father-in-law served in the u.s. navy for three years. most of the time in the south pacific. ironically, the ship he was on was eventually decommissioned and was used as a ship for testing, the atomic tests that were done. i have a lot of feelings on this from humanitarian point of view.
you know, the japanese power was really defeated in 1944. it was an island country, as were all the islands that the u.s. army and marines fought their way up to japan. of the civilians in japan was just, in my opinion, inhumane. the war was over. there were a defeated country. an invasion was not needed. the bombs were not needed. you have an island nation who lost their navy. they had no air force. their army had been defeated. we could have put an embargo surrounding the country for years if we had to. we occupied it for years afterwards. i think it set the stage for the future. i know as young men in the 1950's going through grammar age andfrom a nuclear
the terror and all the rest of it, we have all had to live with it. i think it was unnecessary. it sets the stage for the bad things that have happened since and the threat of nuclear war in this world. host: ok, phil. one more thing on that, ian toll , tagging onto the question about would a naval blockade have been effective? a question from a viewer in michigan. our previous caller mentioned something like that. aest: well, you know, we had blockade in place at the end of the war. we essentially destroyed japan's marine, oil tankers. the background of the pacific war was that japan is a place that has virtually no natural
resources at all. no oil to speak of, low-grade toll. very little mining minerals. outso, why did japan strike to seize this enormous empire in asia and the pacific? above all, i think it was this desire that the materialist imperious this regime -- imperious regime had the view that oil was most important. of sumatra and borneo, that is 3000 miles from japan, so they have the problem of having to import oil through this thousand mile artery that attacked, easily be and it was by our submarines, our airpower in the third month of 1945 when we essentially cut that line way. so it is true, i absolutely
agree with the caller, that the japanese war machine was kind of sputtering to a complete halt by the time that we ended the war with atomic bombs. certainly is that you could make a good counterfactual haveent that if we do not the atomic bombs at all, yeah, most likely, the japanese would have surrendered by some point in the fall of 1945. host: so was the japanese fleet defeated at that time? guest: absolutely. the japanese fleet really did not exist. we had destroyed it, sunk all their ships. what little remained of their harbors.in japanese we were attacking those ships at anchor with our carrier planes. the japanese navy was totally finished by the summer of 1945. host: you point out --
guest: yes, i do agree that a blockade most likely would have forced a japanese surrender. but how long would that have taken? that is hard to say. the japanese army, which i control of the country, the rank-and-file of that army was determined not to surrender. islly, what you are asking in tokyo, how would you have created the conditions for the emperor to be able to say, we are going to accept this unconditional surrender and to have that decision stick across the military? you know, as i say, i think you could make a good argument that would have happened, even without the atomic bombs, by the followed 1945. that is a common factual argument. as an historian and scholar, you have to acknowledge there is ambiguity. host: what was going on in the 90's between the bombing of hiroshima and the announcement by the emperor on surrender on
august 15? what took so long? guest: you have turmoil in the capitol. the rank-and-file of the japanese army, the elite kind of middle exelon of the officer of the officern corps and at the army ministry were dead set against anything resembling surrender. the idea of letting an occupying army, let the enemy send an was when you had within the ruling group, you had a deadlock to those by that time were saying, we do not have any choice. the nazis have been defeated. we are alone. we have to surrender and be rational. hard,en the militarist
fight on faction, there was a deadlock within the ruling group. it took all of that time to resolve that deadlock. onwe had hit hiroshima august 6 and on august 9 nagasaki. on august 9, the russians cleared war on the japanese, and they rolled their tanks and army and enormous numbers of troops from siberia to manchuria. so there was this sudden soviet attack. i think it was that soviet attack that was really sort of the final straw that convinced the ruling group of japan that they had no other choice and agree to the conditions with the emperor, who generally did not intervene to make decisions and was able to say, i am making the decision that we surrender, and the japanese military accepted that decision.
it was a difficult process for them to kind of reached that point of consensus. that explains that delay. and the decision to surrender on the part of the japanese really theyon august 9, but responded to our demand for surrender by saying we want to preserve the status of our emperor. so there was a last round of negotiations between our government and the japanese government in those last five days, so that explains part of the delay, as well. host: here is bill in waynesboro, pennsylvania. go ahead. caller: hello. my dad was a medic in okinawa during world war ii. there who havele leprosy. i was proud of what my dad did during world war ii. i am ashamed of what my country did by introducing this terrible weapon to the world.
the fact is, there were people in hiroshima and nagasaki who were instantly vaporized when the bomb was dropped. fleshwere people whose was burned off their bones. i read one account that said people walked around silently right after this happened, believing that they had died and gone to hell. this is the order of nuclear weapons. if we go to today, our nuclear weapons are hundreds of times more powerful than those original bombs, and we could destroy this entire planet very quickly if we did not kill all life immediately. everyone, everything would die after the nuclear winter from radiation, from the dust clouds that would lock out the sun.
could i say one more thing? host: sure, go ahead. caller: it may sound crazy to say we should ban nuclear weapons, but how insane is it to maintain these weapons? i would like to ask your guest, how do you feel about a worldwide ban on pursuing a true ban of nuclear weapons as opposed to constantly updating and refining the nuclear weapons? toll?ian guest: yeah. well, just to take that last question, you know, if it was nukes in thean all hands of all governments around dealorld and to decisively with the potential problem of a
nonstate actor getting access to a nuclear weapon, then, absolutely i think it would be in the interest of not just this country but the world to get rid of these weapons. you know, there is a silver lining in this conversation, which is we are 75 years today since the first weapon was used against the people of hiroshima and then three days later nagasaki, and in 75 years, we have not had another nuke used in any war, in any conventional war against any civilian or military population. we have never seen a new used -- nuke used. in 1945, people at the end of the war, americans at the end of the war looking forward, would have been surprised that would be the case. there was an assumption that
this was a new era of warfare and we would see more of the bombs used. of course, throughout the cold war, this was a constant terror. we had generations who grew up having to do duck and cover drills and classrooms. we came close in several locations during the cold war to a nuclear exchange. in the cuban missile war, there were a few actions. we are fortunate we have not seen these weapons used again. i think that is something we can celebrate today. inst: we will go to bee crowley, texas. caller: good morning. that itanted to say seems awfully easy for a lot of people to be saying that we should not have done this or we should not have done that when they were not here and there were not living through this, but those of us who were were just damn glad when it was over.
i had two uncles who were japanese pows and went through familyth march, and my just rejoiced when the war was over. people were getting killed this put an end to it a while, at least. host: ian toll, how soon after the bombings did americans know the news? guest: know the news of that we had dropped one of these weapons? host: yes. guest: well, you played the clip of president truman's newsreel announcement aboard the augusta on august 6, so the same day. in fact, just within one hour of the bomb being dropped, we had
or the white house issued a statement explaining that we had this new weapon and we had dropped it. unfortunately, looking back with hindsight, we had said we had dropped it on a japanese military base, which really is not true. it would be like saying if you dropped a nuke on san diego and saying we hit an american naval base. well, there is a big city there, and if you are going to do that, you ought to be able to say, this is what we did. i think that looks better in the long lens of history. the last caller said for americans who were fighting in that war, these abstractions were not important to them. these are extractions. these are questions that we say, how does this make us look as a country in the long term? what does it do for our legacy? those are abstract questions. if you are fighting on the
ground as a marine, soldier, sailor, you expect to be deployed in the final invasion of japan and you know, the issue looks much, much different. at that point, you are willing for your president to do anything at all to end the war quickly and without an invasion. in addition, it was the brutality of the war. i think in 1945, we should be clear, the american people polling shows this, they understood the atomic bombings in part as an act of revenge. this was an act of revenge against the japanese for the way they had treated civilians throughout asia and in particular the way they had treated our prisoners. is thethe way that orthodox or traditional defense of the atomic bombs we hear most
likely now, the issue of revenge is removed from the equation. it is more we hit these two cities because the total number of dead would have been lower than an invasion, and it is sort of what we call utilitarian reasoning. the greatest good for the greatest number. that is the defense of the bombings, not as an act of revenge. the initial feeling we had that this was an act of retribution against a barbaric enemy, you know, that only survived the first year or two after the war. once we started getting graphic accounts of what had happened in hiroshima and nagasaki from john hirschi's article published in "the new yorker," a year after the bombings, august, 1946, then, that is when the american people really began to wrestle with this and to realize this is not how we think about ourselves as a country.
we don't take revenge on women and children in cities. the explanation changed a bit to we had to do that. it was a horrible thing. terrible tragedy, but we had to do it because the alternative would have been even worse. host: in toll, the twilight of the gods, third and final volume of his pacific war trilogy. war in the western pacific, 1944 to 1945. we appreciate you joining us on this 75th anniversary. >> "washington journal," everyday we are taking your calls live on the air and will discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, we will discuss the moratorium on evictions that is about to expire with national low income housing coalition president and ceo. and a chief economist will be with us to talk about the state
of the u.s. economy. watch c-span's "washington journal" live at seven a clock eastern friday morning and be sure to join the discussion with phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. >> american history tv on c-span3, exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. coming up this weekend, sunday march the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of nagasaki, japan, three days after the bombing of hiroshima. american history tv and "washington journal" live at 9:00 a.m. eastern. a look at how the bombings ended world war ii and the aftermaths of the decades ahead with an and a professor at american universities nuclear studies institute. we will take your calls, texts facebook questions, and tweets. at 4:00 p.m. eastern, the 1946
film "effects of the atomic bomb on hiroshima and nagasaki" documenting the origins of hiroshima's peace park. at 8:00 p.m. eastern on the presidency, the 75th anniversary of a conference where the new president, harry truman, informed winston churchill of england and joseph stalin of the soviet union about the new u.s. super weapon. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. sunday night on "q&a," the manhattan institute president examines the question on whether another exit is is ahead for u.s. cities due to the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest. >> my fear is you are going to see a period from 1980 to 2020 when you saw this tremendous prosperity in a number of major urban centers. , if wet 2020 beyond
do not approach this in a thoughtful and careful way could represent the reversal in which the economic activity, that talent that flooded into our cities starts to flood out of our cities. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q&a." from chicago is clifton truman daniel, the grandson of president harry truman. joining us this morning on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of hiroshima. mr. daniel, welcome to "washington journal." guest: good morning. thank you. host: you were 15 years old when your grandfather, when harry truman passed wavement you said in past conversations with us and elsewhere that you never had a chance to talk with him directly about the de significance to bomb hiroshima and nagasaki. what have you come to in terms of your -- his decision? what's your view of de