Richard B. Frank, "The best worst option" // Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July/August 2005 (vol. 61, № 4), стр. 60
выделение жирным шрифтом добавлено
I believe a sober assesment of ends, means and costs demonstrates that the atomic bombs were the worst way to end the Pacific War -- except all the others. Therefore, had the decision been mine to make, I would have authorized the use of atomic bombs. The U.S. war aim of “unconditional surrender” constituted the essential legal authority to abolish the old order in Japan, thereby transforming military victory into an enduring peace. The Japanese, however, pursued two minimal goals: preservation of the Imperial institution and of the entrenched militaristic order.
Far from regarding their situation as hopeless, Japanese leaders crafted a military-political strategy called Ketsu Go to secure their twin war aims. Ketsu Go rested on the premise that inflicting heavy losses during the initial invasion would shatter brittle American resolve. The Japanese shrewdly anticipated that southern Kyushu (Japan’s third largest island) would be the U.S. beachhead and packed it with defenses. Against this backdrop, U.S. diplomatic concessions acted not as a one-way ratchet toward peace, but as concrete vindication for the hardliners’ central premise of vulnerable American will.
U.S. leaders confronted an extensive menu of options. Naval and air officers advocated continuation of the ongoing campaign of bombardment and blockade. This strategy contemplated killing Japanese by the tens or hundreds of thousands with bombs and shells, and by the millions through starvation. U.S. decision makers looked to complement bombardment and blockade with an invasion followed by Soviet entry. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff in April 1945 defined the ultimate American nightmare not as the invasion, but the peril that, even if the Japanese government surrendered, Japan’s armed forces would not. The prospect of defeating some five million unyielding Japanese in the Home Islands, on the Asian continent, and throughout the Pacific far overshadowed the potential losses in the initial invasion of Japan.
By July and the first days of August 1945, radio intelligence demonstrated that southern Kyushu bristled with Japanese forces that far exceeded prior U.S. estimates. A radio intelligence assessment passed to senior policy makers on July 27 stated that, based on review of both the diplomatic and the military intercepts, it was clear that Japan would never submit to terms acceptable to the United States as long as the Imperial Army remained confident in Ketsu Go. That is the most succinct and accurate assessment of the realities of 1945 as one can find. Given these revelations, I cannot imagine that anyone who could have been president would have failed to use atomic bombs. The realization that the planned invasion of Kyushu was no longer feasible also undercut any American confidence that Soviet intervention could be decisive, since Gen. George Marshall had tied its impact to the success of the U.S. invasion. More importantly, Japanese military leaders did not regard Soviet entry as the end because the Soviets lacked the sea lift to deliver their massive armies and tactical air forces to the Home Islands. Accordingly, Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, the chief of staff of the Imperial Army, told the emperor that Soviet entry made no difference for Ketsu Go. More ominously still, the Imperial Army rebounded from news of an imminent Soviet entry with a plan to eliminate any vestige of civilian government and rule from Imperial headquarters. This stroke would have eradicated the legal basis for the emperor’s intervention. And absent the emperor’s intervention, there was no sure path to peace.
This brings us to costs. The bombs killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Japanese—many from the horrifying effects of radiation that U.S. policy makers were ignorant of in 1945. The alternatives were worse. Beyond the military losses, the Soviet Union’s initial intervention in the war against Japan ultimately cost the lives of between 340,000 and 500,000 Japanese, overwhelmingly noncombatants. Had the war not ended when it did, many more would have perished. The blockade would have killed millions.
Finally, we now know that ending the war by August 15 was crucial. By then, a new August 13 targeting directive that sought the destruction of Japan’s railroads through strategic bombings would have gone into effect. Coupled to the annihilation of shipping and a desperate food shortage, this directive would have locked Japan inexorably on a course to a massive famine. Ghastly as the bombs were, the grim reality is that no other combination of events would have produced an enduring peace at less cost.
Richard B. Frank is the author of "Downfall: The End of the Japanese Imperial Empire", Random House, 1999, a meticulous and cogently argued volume that soon gained widespread recognition as the definitive work on the end of the Pacific War. Frank brought together evidence from other scholars and added a great deal of his own to produce a book that left virtually every aspect of the revisionist case in tatters. His comprehensive overview of casualty estimates prior to the planned invasion of Japan supported historians who had argued for high-end figures. He pointedly rejected the thesis that modifying the demand for unconditional surrender to include the preservation of the imperial institution would have shortened the war. As J. Samuel Walker put it in a review of Downfall, Frank’s analysis of the diplomatic and military evidence “drives a stake into the heart of the most cherished revisionist contention -- that Japan was seeking peace and the United States prolonged the war by refusing to soften its demand for unconditional surrender.”
* * *
Michael Kort, "The Historiography of Hiroshima: The Rise and Fall of Revisionism" // The New England Journal of History, Vol. 64, No. 1 (Fall 2007), 31-48
* * *
There is yet another dimension to the casualty issue that [...] has not been sufficiently factored into this debate. Soviet intervention was not cost free in terms of civilian casualties. On the Asian continent, some 2.7 million Japanese nationals fell into Soviet hands in 1945. Only a third of these were military personnel. Of this total, between about 340,000 and 370,000 died or disappeared in Soviet hands. Most of these were civilians. As we now know, the Soviets were on the cusp of landing on Hokkaido, the main northerly home island, as the war ended. Had the Soviets seized Hokkaido and inflicted the same loss on civilians, another 400,000 Japanese would have perished. In China, some ten to possibly twenty-two million died during World War II, about 80 percent of them noncombatants.  That is a rate of approximately 100,000 to 200,000 per month. Thus, permitting the war to continue added to the Chinese death toll at that rate. Finally, as I discuss in detail in a chapter in What If? 2, had the war continued for even a few weeks, the switch of American strategic bombing to the Japanese rail system would have triggered a famine that would have killed millions of Japanese by November 1946.  Thus, alternatives to the nuclear weapons were not cost free, nor did the use of the bombs represent the most costly manner in which the war might end.
Richard B. Frank, "President Harry S.Truman’s Farewell Address and the Atomic Bomb: The High Price of Secrecy" // ed. Richard S. Kirkrendale, "Harry's Farewell: Interpreting and Teaching the Truman Presidency", University of Missouri Press, 2004, стр. 133-4
 William F. Nimmo, Behind a Curtain of Silence: Japanese in Soviet Custody, 1945–1956 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1998), chap. 7, esp. 115–17; John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1986), 298–99, and Embracing Defeat, 50; Frank, Downfall, 356. Chinese fatalities in the ten million range are reported in Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, 134–39, and Dower, War without Mercy, 295–96.Weinberg’s magisterial World at Arms, 894, gives fifteen million as a “reasonable approximation,” and Dower, Embracing Defeat, sets the number as “perhaps 15 million.” The twenty-two million figure is from James C. Hsiung and Steven I. Levine, eds., China’s Bitter Victory (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1992), 295 and note. Hsiung based his figures on work in Chinese archives in Nanking. The lowest-range numbers are two million, mentioned by Newman and Dower; however, these appear to be confined to military losses.
 Richard B. Frank, “No Bomb: No End,” in What If? 2, ed. Robert Cowley (New York: G. P. Putnum’s Sons, 2001).