War in the Pacific was won months before Franklin Roosevelt’s April 12, 1945 death.
He declined to accept the Japanese offer of surrender. So did Harry Truman when he became president.
War continued for months unnecessarily, countless more casualties inflicted, mainly Japanese civilians – notably from fire-bombing Toyko in March 1945, an estimated 100,000 perishing in the firestorm, many more injured, over a million left homeless.
Around the same time, five dozen other Japanese cities were fire-bombed. Most structures in the country were wooden and easily consumed.
The attacks amounting to war crimes achieved no strategic advantage. In early 1945, Japan offered to surrender. In February, Douglas McArthur sent Roosevelt a 40-page summary of its terms.
They were nearly unconditional. The Japanese would accept an occupation, would cease hostilities, surrender its arms, remove all troops from occupied territories, submit to criminal war trials, and allow its industries to be regulated. In return, they asked only that their emperor be retained in an honorable capacity.
Roosevelt spurned the offer as did Truman. Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed on August 6 and 9 respectively.
They were gratuitous acts of mass murder, killing hundreds of thousands, scaring future generations to this day with birth defects and other serious health issues.
The bombings weren’t conducted to win a war won months earlier. They displayed America’s new might, what Soviet Russia’s leadership already knew, what might follow against its cities if Washington decided to attack its wartime ally.
Terror-bombing is an international crime – banned by the 1907 Hague IV Convention, Geneva IV protecting civilians in time of war, and the Nuremberg principles, forbidding “crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” including “inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war.”
Hiroshima’s 72nd anniversary is an ominous reminder that what happened then can occur again – far more disastrously than earlier, including on US soil.