That's exactly right, and I forgot to mention that. I believe that more people were also killed in the firebombing of Dresden, Germany than in both A-bomb attacks as well. People simply fix on the A-Bombs because they were, um, ATOMIC.
Which leads me to another point.
The Revision History and Neo-Liberal outrage over the US dropping the A-Bombs is nothing more than an attempt to apply current perceptions and feelings of distaste for the current administration and war in Iraq to an event which occured under completely different circumstances. The main argument is that Japan was collapsing from the inside out and that, given a little more time, they would have eventually surrendered.
That's an interesting argument to be sure, and one that any sane person WISHES could have happened. The problem is that it's 100% emotional based, and the facts of the situation paint a very different picture.
The leadership in Japan were bitterly divided over whether or not they should surrender, or prolong the war in order to perhaps gain one of two more strategic victories. Victories that would have, in their minds, given them more bargaining power at the peace table. Victories that would have, incidentally, cost them very dearly in terms of their own fatalities - tens of thousands more deaths; depending on which battle scenario they decided upon. They were not under any illusions that they could win at that point. They knew it was over. However, their feelings about the sanctity of the Emperor and his rule - and their general philosophy of existence with honor - utterly prevented them from giving up. Sheer madness might also simply play a part. At this point they viewed their own civilian population as little more than fodder. Most able-bodied men were either dead or injured. The only soldiers left were old men. That civilian population that were, right up until the end, being trained to give their lives in the event of an Allied Invasion? They were mostly women, children, old men, and invalids.
The Potsdam Declaration was issued almost 2 weeks prior to the dropping of the first bomb.
It was quite clear in it's demands:
Immediate, unconditional surrender, or face total destruction
It did not mince words.
The Japanese ignored it almost entirely. Fixated instead on what Russia was doing. They had their opportunity to end it, and they said 'nay'.
The notion that the US just willy-nilly dropped the bombs out of sheer malice, without any warning whatsoever, is irresponsible in the extreme. Perfect for the times, really. But, again, containing no basis in reality. The notion that we dropped the 2nd bomb just to see if it would work as well as the first, or to show the Soviets how big our balls were, is also little more than applying current perceptions of the Bush Administration to events of 60+ years ago. The Soviets got the message after the first bomb.
The idea that the 2nd bomb was simply 'piling on' is silly. The decision to drop 2 bombs had been made prior. I can't remember exactly when, but if I remember correctly, just 6 months prior they weren't even positive they would have one bomb - let alone 2. Once they had two, the leadership under Truman formed a very clear plan. We drop the first. We demand surrender. No surrender? Bomb #2.
The lines of communication and diplomacy were wide open as of the 9th. There were the usual rumblings from far off Japanese diplomats that Japan might consider talking. No formal contact was initiated by the Japanese leadership.
The very fact that it took 6 days after Nagasaki for them to formally surrender says everything about the Japanese mentality at the time. They were willing to go the long haul. It cannot be stressed enough that the Japanese were given ample time after Potsdam to surrender. This is an undisputed fact. The position of the Revisionist History Neo-Liberals is that the terms were unfavorable to the Japanese. That it was humiliating and demeaning. The emotional response for most in this argument is 'Fuck the Japanese. They waged a horrid brutal war. They deserve no concessions."; and that would in fact be a valid response.
However, the Potsdam Declaration was no Treaty of Versailles; that would have left Japan in total economic ruin with no hope of recovery. On the contrary, without getting into the specific details the Potsdam Declaration was phenominally fair - allowing Japanese industry and trade to flourish. Versailles gutted Germany because of it's deep restrictions. Potsdam was no such document.
In the end, for someone like b0unce the dropping of the Atomic Bombs might as well have occured yesterday. He makes no distinction between then and now. Refuses to put anything into context. FDR and Truman become Bush. He is not alone. He's in good company. Scores of anti-Americans and Revisionist Neo-Liberals are lined up next to him. It's not surprising, therefore, that we are beginning to see a new wave of books and writings also start to crop up. Books that are making a strong claim that Japan's atrocities did in fact not occur - or at the very least, occurred in such small numbers as to be irrelevant. Nanking becomes a subject of debate, instead of a historical fact. The more that time goes on, the more easier it gets to 'Revisit' history and make of it what you will.
There's a few old women left in Nanking who might have a thing or two to say about that.