Why not "besiege" Japan?

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hselassi
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Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by hselassi » 12 Aug 2018 00:08

One thing I have always wondered about, if there was no atomic bomb, why not just besiege Japan?

We were already mining the harbors and running out of places to bomb, so we would just continue with business as usual until they surrendered. By the Spring of 1946 they would have to start deciding what to use their remaining fuel for (war production, war use, or food infrastructure) and mass starvation would begin by late 1946. Allied losses would be minimal by comparison (a few hundred aircraft and the occasional ship vs one million in Operation Downfall). The two things I can think of speeding up Allied planning would be 1) Soviet intervention and 2) National exhaustion.

In the case of Soviet intervention 1) the Soviets did not have enough landing craft to attack Hokkaido in force and even if they did successfully land, it would be a hard crawl beyond the shores (not that Stalin cared about losses), 2) The Japanese High Command knew what to expect from the Soviets (a Red baby inside every Yamato Nadeshiko) so as soon as the Soviets established themselves they would be begging the Allies to take over. I don't see any value in the argument that it would be terrible if the Soviets got any part of Japan, after all, we let them have half of Europe which was far more valuable and were willing to let them have Manchuria and N Korea in Asia.

Home front exhaustion might be a more likely scenario with the English than the US, revenge for Pearl Harbor would be enough to keep the US in the war, while the Commonwealth would just stick to clearing up its old holdings.

Anyway, to get back to the question at hand, why not just sit back and let the survivors beg for peace?

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wm
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2018 00:34

What about the occupied territories and famines there?
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Aug 2018 07:54

Hi hselassi,

.....and call the war a draw and finish it a bit like WWI, with many Japanese convinced they were undefeated?

As long as the Japanese could feed themselves and remained in thrall to their existing power structures, why would they "beg for peace"?

The merit of the atom bombs was that they brought about a speedy conclusion and very probably saved a large number of lives, both Allied servicemen and especially Japanese civilians.

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hselassi
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by hselassi » 12 Aug 2018 08:53

One clarification first, which may not be obvious from my OP, but by besieging Japan, I meant the Home Islands exclusively (i.e. current Japan), excluding its colonial holdings and occupied territories. Operations elsewhere (US in Philippines, CW in SE Asia, SU in N China/Korea) would continue unchanged.
wm wrote:
12 Aug 2018 00:34
What about the occupied territories and famines there?
wm, not to be crass, but when did the western powers ever care about millions of Asians starving?

I am not sure if there would be starvation in the occupied territories (no more than actually occurred), but if there was, then less locals means easier reconquest for the colonial powers and in the case of China, starvation would occur primarily in areas that were not under KMT control in 1937, so I don't think CKC would care either.

Also, with the Home Islands besieged and the seas under Allied control, Japanese holdings become de facto pockets awaiting the eventual clearing/surrender. They can try to lash out at their surroundings or defend what they have, but it no longer has any effect on the war, which is taking place between Mr. & Mrs. Japan and their next bowl of rice.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Aug 2018 07:54
.....and call the war a draw and finish it a bit like WWI, with many Japanese convinced they were undefeated?
Sid, sorry if is not clear in the OP, but the endstate is still unconditional surrender (maybe this time even without the imperial guarantee).
Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Aug 2018 07:54
As long as the Japanese could feed themselves and remained in thrall to their existing power structures, why would they "beg for peace"?
That is the point of the siege, to starve them into surrender (as I said mass starvation begins by late '46 (malnutrition was becoming widespread in '45 already), so societal collapse would occur by late '47 at most). Standard medieval stuff, surround them (naval blockade already feasible by mid '45), deny them access to food (continued bombing and shelling from the fleet), and wait for them to open the gates.
Sid Guttridge wrote:
12 Aug 2018 07:54
The merit of the atom bombs was that they brought about a speedy conclusion and very probably saved a large number of lives, both Allied servicemen and especially Japanese civilians.
I won't argue that, the bombs probably saved 100 Japanese for every Allied they saved, I am just wondering why the costly "Operation Downfall" when they could just sit back and starve Japan to death (or unconditional surrender, whichever comes first).

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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by OpanaPointer » 12 Aug 2018 10:26

A siege is the mostly costly and most difficult option the Allies had. And the first people to die in a siege are the old, the babies at the breast, and the sick. The men with guns would still get fed.

People complain about the number of dead at the bomb sites, but seem willing to accept ten to twenty million dead civilians.

"Home front exhaustion might be a more likely scenario with the English than the US, revenge for Pearl Harbor would be enough to keep the US in the war, while the Commonwealth would just stick to clearing up its old holdings."

"War weariness" was a major concern for the US as well as the other Allies. Troops were coming home from Europe, spending some time with their families, then embarking for the Pacific. Nobody was happy with that.

The short, sharp, devastating method of applying every means available to end the war was more merciful than having babies die in mountain villages far from the war.
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South
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by South » 12 Aug 2018 12:54

Good morning Hselassi,

Ref: "Two things ... speeding up Allied planning...;
Recommend add to list:
3. A pending US Presidential election
4. The background to the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendment (passed over Truman's veto).

Ref para 2; Soviets getting any part of Japan;
Besides an anticipated Cold War - some say the Cold War started with Dresden bombing (1943[?]), there was also a concurrent Cold War. Much happening to prepare for a "new world order" when Japan neutralized.

If "we" = US, the US did not "let" the USSR have half of Europe. It was negotiated. Unconditional demands to USSR were not typed up for a reason.

Ref Manchuko and North Korea; Review the "China Lobby" and the US national political scene. Then perform the financial tally.


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South
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by South » 12 Aug 2018 13:17

Good morning Hselassi,

Other post above;

Ref "When";
Re: "When did the Western Powers ever care...";

It was a combination of European and Asian (non-European Slavic) and the "when" was between 1921 and 1923. Herbert Hoover's American Relief Administration ("ARA") ran a huge famine relief effort in the interior of the USSR. This famine was the largest in Europe since the Middle Ages. At max effort, Hoover's program was feeding up to 10 million Russians PER DAY. Hoover's been defamed and relegated to the trash pile more so than Aaron Burr. Historical accuracy probably ended here prior to 1607.

I can't read my handwriting on my note pad - but ref areas with less starvation, ......;

An illustration that probably - I think so - indicative of the situation; From 1945 to 1949, the KMT controlled areas were in WORST shape than areas controlled by Mao. The reasoning was that KMT had the cities and the troops and support folks had to deal with inflated money. Mao and Tong-gee (comrades) were living off the land and wild onion soup and bark tea were superior in calories and taste than nothing in the cities.

hselassi
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by hselassi » 12 Aug 2018 14:56

OpanaPointer wrote:
12 Aug 2018 10:26
A siege is the mostly costly and most difficult option the Allies had. And the first people to die in a siege are the old, the babies at the breast, and the sick. The men with guns would still get fed.
I have to ask, why the most costly? A few hundred aircraft and a few ships at most is far less than the 100000 KIA and 1million total casualties of Downfall.
OpanaPointer wrote:
12 Aug 2018 10:26
"War weariness" was a major concern for the US as well as the other Allies. Troops were coming home from Europe, spending some time with their families, then embarking for the Pacific. Nobody was happy with that.
I figure this would be the main reason for Downfall, but with minimal losses and the Hollywood propaganda machine (they did a great job with Uncle Joe) in full swing they could have kept the war going for a year or more. BUT, I agree with you that home front issues were the most likely scenario (specially after South brought up some additional issues).
South wrote:
12 Aug 2018 12:54
Ref: "Two things ... speeding up Allied planning...;

Recommend add to list:
3. A pending US Presidential election
4. The background to the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendment (passed over Truman's veto).
Thanks, I had not thought about 4 and forgotten about 3, although, I believe the siege would have been the better strategy, it is easier to sell a victory (after all Fabius Cunctator was right, but his rule was not extended and his strategy was not recognized until a few additional defeats).
South wrote:
12 Aug 2018 13:17
It was a combination of European and Asian (non-European Slavic) and the "when" was between 1921 and 1923. Herbert Hoover's American Relief Administration ("ARA") ran a huge famine relief effort in the interior of the USSR. This famine was the largest in Europe since the Middle Ages. At max effort, Hoover's program was feeding up to 10 million Russians PER DAY. Hoover's been defamed and relegated to the trash pile more so than Aaron Burr. Historical accuracy probably ended here prior to 1607.
I don't blame Hoover for the Great Depression (that was half complex events half domino theory, he was mostly along for the ride trying the best he could). I blame him for saving the Soviet Union, without him, I don't think the ARA would have been as successful. It would have still occurred, but he was the fire in the engine. That being said, all he did was buy the Bolsheviks the time they needed and make Stalin's job later on a bit more time consuming. Sometimes you just have to let things work themselves out.

But to counter your point, he was feeding "white" people (the famine was mainly in Slavic/Volga German areas), here we are talking about "yellow" people. This has not changed, remember in the 90s when we went all out to save the good "white" Bosnian Muslims (ask any Serb or Croat that fell to their tender mercies how good they were) while we just "felt the pain" of almost a million "black" Rwandans when a few bombs and a battallion or two would have put an end to the genocide.

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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by South » 12 Aug 2018 16:09

Good morning Hselassi,

Well received.

I recall the expeditionary force to attack the home islands was a siege force and it was a public matter. It was assembled in tandem to the hoped-for atomic attacks cancelling the former.

Herbert Hoover was the world's greatest humanitarian.

The thrust of your point was less about starving Asians and more so about "Western Powers' care". My example illustrates this. For the record, this was not exclusively for benevolent reasons. "Mainly" is nominal to the point being discussed. The US-funded ARA had motives besides helping the Bolsheviks. Plus, do note that the Bolsheviks obtained control over the Czar's land mass only in 1922.

Also note "Asians" - - "millions of Asians" - - incorporates non-Oriental Asians and the starvation did involve Russian Mongolians and others such as Yiddish-speaking Russians of the Maritime Oblasts who ran the railroad and the business support systems. Many other "ethnicities" present and fed. The Turkish ethnic group, now in Xinjiang, China, was in this Russian landmass and they are not classified as Orientals.


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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by OpanaPointer » 12 Aug 2018 16:27

The requirements for a seige would be more than "A few hundred aircraft and a few ships at most".
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by hselassi » 12 Aug 2018 17:41

OpanaPointer wrote:
12 Aug 2018 16:27
The requirements for a seige would be more than "A few hundred aircraft and a few ships at most".
I was only talking abut losses, not participants. Allied forces in the Far East would remain as per history, with addtional air and fleet assets added as they became available/supportable.

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wm
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by wm » 12 Aug 2018 18:11

hselassi wrote:
12 Aug 2018 08:53
wm, not to be crass, but when did the western powers ever care about millions of Asians starving?
They cared sufficiently to impose the first sanctions in retaliation for firebombing Chongqing in 1939.
China was an ally, Chiang Kai-shek wouldn't miss any chance to demand something to be done.

hselassi wrote:
12 Aug 2018 08:53
One clarification first, which may not be obvious from my OP, but by besieging Japan, I meant the Home Islands exclusively (i.e. current Japan), excluding its colonial holdings and occupied territories. Operations elsewhere (US in Philippines, CW in SE Asia, SU in N China/Korea) would continue unchanged.
It would be a mistake, according to contemporary (and current) military thinking the center of gravity (the source of moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act) should be attacked first and only.

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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by OpanaPointer » 12 Aug 2018 18:44

hselassi wrote:
12 Aug 2018 17:41
OpanaPointer wrote:
12 Aug 2018 16:27
The requirements for a seige would be more than "A few hundred aircraft and a few ships at most".
I was only talking abut losses, not participants. Allied forces in the Far East would remain as per history, with addtional air and fleet assets added as they became available/supportable.
And you'd have a million men tied up "out there" in case they decided to try to break the siege. Wouldn't work.
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hselassi
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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by hselassi » 12 Aug 2018 20:29

wm wrote:
12 Aug 2018 18:11
hselassi wrote:
12 Aug 2018 08:53
wm, not to be crass, but when did the western powers ever care about millions of Asians starving?
They cared sufficiently to impose the first sanctions in retaliation for firebombing Chongqing in 1939.
China was an ally, Chiang Kai-shek wouldn't miss any chance to demand something to be done.
No they didn't, your second sentence provides the answer, they cared that CKC/CKS was an ally and demanded action.
wm wrote:
12 Aug 2018 18:11
It would be a mistake, according to contemporary (and current) military thinking the center of gravity (the source of moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act) should be attacked first and only.
Sorry, I don't understand your point, can you elaborate.
OpanaPointer wrote:
12 Aug 2018 18:44
hselassi wrote:
12 Aug 2018 17:41
I was only talking abut losses, not participants. Allied forces in the Far East would remain as per history, with additional air and fleet assets added as they became available/supportable.
And you'd have a million men tied up "out there" in case they decided to try to break the siege. Wouldn't work.
As opposed to a million men dying by the thousands and shooting 12 year olds charging them with bamboo spears (that is Downfall in a nutshell)? I think I favor sitting around waiting to slaughter whatever death ride the remnants of the IJN is planning while bombing them into the stone age. As far as "Wouldn't work," why not (obviously it would not be tried per the political reasons stated earlier), name me a supportable siege in history that has not succeeded (even non-supportable sieges like Caesar in Gaul sometimes work) as long as the political will existed to carry them through.

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Re: Why not "besiege" Japan?

Post by OpanaPointer » 12 Aug 2018 20:46

You really need to so some reading on this. I can recommend 10-11 books.
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