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'A Celestial Can Of Raid'
Logical Insanity by Dan Carlin
© 2013 James LaFond
DEC/7/13
What led to the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
That has been a huge question since 1945.
Rather than go after that specific question, Dan uses this horrific event as a point of departure into the mindset of World War II policy makers and war ministers. He walks the listener back through the insane decision making template within which human beings exercised the coldest forms of logic. Dan will take you back to 1936 when German aviators experimented with the science of strategic bombing when they leveled a Basque city of only 5,000. By 1944 50,000 fatalities a night was common. He spends time on British, French, German and American strategic air doctrine.
Before you go into listening to this piece, please keep in mind—and Dan will remind you—that numerous German and Japanese cities had been leveled by ‘firestorms’, featuring superheated hurricane force winds, deliberately engineered from behind a desk, and executed from above. In spots, this is actually hard to listen to: gas masks melting to faces, people melted into asphalt, getting cooked alive within bomb shelters, people having air sucked out of them in firestorms and turned into doll-sized effigies, etc.
I highly recommend Logic Insanity. Let me leave you with a few gruesome tidbits:
1. Prewar British bombing tests demonstrated that only one third of bombers could be expected to release their bombs within five miles of the target.
2. Every major military in the decade leading up to WWII thought that chemical weapons would be used. The interesting thing was that the Germans possessed the nastiest chemical weapons, and declined to use them.
3. The casualty predictions before the war were even higher than the astronomical figures that were actually sustained, giving you an idea that this conflict was regarded as an Armageddon scenario before it even happened.
4. Eisenhower thought strategic bombing was stupid.
5. At least four high level American officials were against targeting civilians, and were not able to stop the killing machine.
6. Civilian and military casualties increased exponentially on the downside of the war, after it was obvious that the allies would defeat the Axis powers.
7. An explanation of distance-enhanced killing taken from Grossman, quoting him writing that if bomber crew member had to slit each one of these women and children’s throats, they could not have done it.
8. Bomber crews returning from the Tokyo fire raid [which claimed over 100,000 in a night], smelled like burning people, and handed their after action reports in with shaking hands. Can you imagine any of these men ever having a sound night’s sleep for the rest of their life?
9. These bombings took place in a war where the Japanese lost 700,000 troops from one army in a single battle against the Russians.
10. My favorite quote comes from a German air warfare expert, “In order to hit anything you have to hit everything.”
Carlin brings to dark life the ghosts of the people who fought in a war, the object of which had become, the ‘erasure’ of cities, without forgetting the millions of women and children that were incinerated before Hiroshima was bombed. The most ironic aspect was that the U.S. Army Air Force alone, had a policy of minimizing civilian casualties, and was, in the end, the military institution that killed more civilians than any other in human history, and did it looking through the Norton Bombsite, developed as a humanitarian instrument to minimize collateral damage.
The podcast comes to a head for me when Winston Churchill stands up from viewing a nose camera film of a bombing raid on Germany and says, “Are we beasts!?!”
If you have the stomach to listen to this whole podcast, you won’t have a hard time coming up with the answer to that question.
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