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World War II: US, Japan, China, and the Bomb Zuoyue Wang Cal Poly Pomona

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Presentation on theme: "World War II: US, Japan, China, and the Bomb Zuoyue Wang Cal Poly Pomona"— Presentation transcript:

1 World War II: US, Japan, China, and the Bomb Zuoyue Wang Cal Poly Pomona “Teaching American History: Trends in Foreign Policy” San Bernadino, February 25, 2008

2 Main Points Main effects of Pearl Harbor was not military, but political Main effects of Pearl Harbor was not military, but political WWII started for China long before Pearl Harbor or even 1939 WWII started for China long before Pearl Harbor or even 1939 The Motivation for the use of the bomb and its role in Japan’s surrender are still being debated by historians The Motivation for the use of the bomb and its role in Japan’s surrender are still being debated by historians US had more options on ending the war with Japan than invasion and the bomb US had more options on ending the war with Japan than invasion and the bomb –Allow the Japanese to keep the emperor –Wait for the Soviets to enter war US: Use of Bomb was more expedient solution than all others, with the added benefits of limiting Soviet occupation of Japan and demonstrating American power US: Use of Bomb was more expedient solution than all others, with the added benefits of limiting Soviet occupation of Japan and demonstrating American power Japan: Soviet entry into the war played as much a role as the drop of the bomb in decision to surrender Japan: Soviet entry into the war played as much a role as the drop of the bomb in decision to surrender Debates are still relevant to American foreign policy today: the potential and limit of technological solutions Debates are still relevant to American foreign policy today: the potential and limit of technological solutions

3 Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese: Disable American sea power in the Pacific Japanese: Disable American sea power in the Pacific But attack missed American strategic petroleum reserve and aircraft carrier But attack missed American strategic petroleum reserve and aircraft carrier No clear evidence for FDR conspiracy No clear evidence for FDR conspiracy It did help end isolationism It did help end isolationism Chinese rejoicing, seeing American assistance in four year-old war of resistance against Japan Chinese rejoicing, seeing American assistance in four year-old war of resistance against Japan

4 US-China Relations Europe first Europe first Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s Visit to US, 1943 Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s Visit to US, 1943 US aid to China US aid to China “Flying Tigers” under Gen. Claire Chennault, “Flying Tigers” under Gen. Claire Chennault, Chinese Nationalist government beset by conflict with Communists, corruption, and inflation Chinese Nationalist government beset by conflict with Communists, corruption, and inflation Nationalist capital in Chongqing in southwest China Nationalist capital in Chongqing in southwest China Communist capital in Yan’an in northwest China Communist capital in Yan’an in northwest China US tried to broker a coalition Chinese joint front against Japanese military with only limited success US tried to broker a coalition Chinese joint front against Japanese military with only limited success

5 The Manhattan Project Nuclear fission discovered in late 1938 Nuclear fission discovered in late 1938 Einstein’s letter to FDR in 1939 Einstein’s letter to FDR in 1939 British report on critical mass, British report on critical mass, Major turning point of bomb project approved by FDR on Dec. 6, 1941 Major turning point of bomb project approved by FDR on Dec. 6, 1941 Chicago Pile 1, Dec. 2, 1942 Chicago Pile 1, Dec. 2, 1942 Los Alamos started in 1943 Los Alamos started in 1943 First atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945 First atomic bomb test on July 16, 1945

6 Potsdam Conference, July-August 1945

7 Options to End the War with Japan Invasion, starting Nov. 1, 1945 Invasion, starting Nov. 1, 1945 Allowing Japan to Keep Emperor Allowing Japan to Keep Emperor Waiting for Soviets to Enter War Waiting for Soviets to Enter War The Bomb The Bomb

8 Before the Bomb Truman and Stimson: Priority was to prevent invasion Truman and Stimson: Priority was to prevent invasion Stimson: Three ways to avoid invasion (7/2/45) Stimson: Three ways to avoid invasion (7/2/45) –Forceful warning with the possibility of “a constitutional monarchy under her present dynasty” –Atomic bomb –Russian entry –Stimson quotes from Michael Stoff, et al., Manhattan Project. Truman at Potsdam: Asked Stalin to get in war Truman at Potsdam: Asked Stalin to get in war –“Most of the big points are settled. He'll be in the Jap War on August 15th. Fini Japs when that comes about. We had lunch, talked socially, put on a real show drinking toasts to everyone, then had pictures made in the back yard. I can deal with Stalin. He is honest--but smart as hell.” HST Diary 7/17/

9 After the Bomb Test Stimson and Truman received full report on 7/21/45 Stimson and Truman received full report on 7/21/45 Stimson: Groves’ full report “revealed far greater destructive power than we expected in S1 [atomic bomb project].” Stimson: Groves’ full report “revealed far greater destructive power than we expected in S1 [atomic bomb project].” It gave Truman “entirely new feeling of confidence” It gave Truman “entirely new feeling of confidence” The news of the bomb coincided with a renewed alarm over Russia: The news of the bomb coincided with a renewed alarm over Russia: –Stimson: “the great basic problem of the future is the stability of the relations of the Western democracies with Russia.” –Contact with Russians at Potsdam convinced him that international control of atomic energy with an autocratic Russia would be difficult if not impossible. 7/21/1945

10 Truman: Waiting for the Bomb “P.M. and I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. “P.M. and I ate alone. Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. “Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. “Stalin had told P.M. of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. “Believe Japs will fold up before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Manhattan appears over their homeland. “ Truman 7/18/1945 “Believe Japs will fold up before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Manhattan appears over their homeland. “ Truman 7/18/1945

11 Truman with the Bomb vs. Russia Stimson: Truman said that “the United States was standing firm [with Russia] and he was apparently relying greatly upon the information as to S1.” 7/23/1945 Stimson: Truman said that “the United States was standing firm [with Russia] and he was apparently relying greatly upon the information as to S1.” 7/23/1945 Marshall felt that “now with our new weapon we would not need the assistance of the Russians to conquer Japan.” 7/23/45 Marshall felt that “now with our new weapon we would not need the assistance of the Russians to conquer Japan.” 7/23/45 Potsdam warning, signed by US, Britain, and China, was timed with the bomb to have maximum effect: Potsdam warning, signed by US, Britain, and China, was timed with the bomb to have maximum effect: –After learning of accelerated bomb use by early August, Truman said “It was just what he wanted…it gave him his cue for his warning.” Stimson, 7/24/1945

12 Truman: Use the Bomb on Military Targets “This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.” “This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.” “[W]e will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance.” “[W]e will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance.” “It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.” “It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.” Truman diary 7/25/1945 xtid=15 xtid=15

13 Japan Hiroshima bomb effects took time to digest Hiroshima bomb effects took time to digest Shock of Soviet entry Shock of Soviet entry Fear of Soviet occupation Fear of Soviet occupation Conditional surrender—keeping emperor Conditional surrender—keeping emperor US acceptance—emperor subject to power of Supreme Commander US acceptance—emperor subject to power of Supreme Commander

14 Chinese Reactions Chinese danced in street over news of Hiroshima Chinese danced in street over news of Hiroshima Chinese government was promised Japanese nuclear instruments, including accelerators, but they were sunk in Tokyo Bay Chinese government was promised Japanese nuclear instruments, including accelerators, but they were sunk in Tokyo Bay Victory of war against Japan did not solve Nationalist-Communist conflict but intensified it Victory of war against Japan did not solve Nationalist-Communist conflict but intensified it Implications for Cold War Implications for Cold War

15 Implications for American Foreign Policy Technological fixes to social and political problems Technological fixes to social and political problems Banking on nuclear weapons Banking on nuclear weapons First Soviet bomb in 1949 First Soviet bomb in 1949 Sputnik Shock of 1957 Sputnik Shock of 1957 Technological superiority in Vietnam War Technological superiority in Vietnam War Shock and Awe Shock and Awe

16 World War II: US, Japan, China, and the Bomb --Further Reading Prof. Zuoyue Wang, Cal Poly Pomona Robert H. Ferrell (ed.), The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb, available at the Truman Library website: Robert H. Ferrell (ed.), The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb, available at the Truman Library website: Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2006) Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2006) Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2003) Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2003) Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991) Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991) Michael B. Stoff, et al., The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age (New York: McGraw Hill, 1991) Michael B. Stoff, et al., The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age (New York: McGraw Hill, 1991) Contact: Contact:


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