Macabre & Shallow Reasoning

March 30, 2011

Why the Target Committee decided in May 1945 that Kyoto was the appropriate target for the atom bomb:-

“Technical concerns over the delivery and efficacy of the bomb had already dictated the choice of Japanese cities as targets by late 1944. It was in picking which city to attack that psychological factors came into play. The Target Committee ultimately selected Kyoto, the intellectual center and historical capital of Japan, as the best initial target in part because its inhabitants were “more highly intelligent and hence better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon.” The goal was not simply to obtain “the greatest psychological effect against Japan” but also to make “the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized.” The Target Committee apparently left unexamined the question of how incinerating and terrorizing the “highly intelligent” citizens of Kyoto might push the Japanese government into capitulation. This macabre and shallow reasoning was reflective of a greater disconnect between the planning for military operations against Japan and the diplomatic efforts to leverage military success into a Japanese surrender that characterized the last months of the war in the Pacific.”

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