I’d argue it has more to do with the immediate memory of the war itself, than both sides possessing the ability to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. Given the rise in nationalism once again, and the fact that we STILL have the ability to wipe humanity from the face of the earth, that direct experience of the war (and the utter destruction of entire communities via entirely conventional means) and the attempt to bring about a unified European project I’d put greater emphasis on those rather than the bomb.
Being able to destroy humanity as a deterrent to a regional skirmish between those war like white people has been vastly overstated, if you want my own, historical informed take on events. In other words, historical memory plays a strong role in shaping diplomatic policies, I’d argue.
Ah, also, this… Let’s not forget some of the largest acts of violence vistited upon civilians since the second world war… though for some people, they don’t consider the Balkans to be a real part of Europe… They’d be wrong, but some don’t, so the Balkan wars do not count towards how we think about violence in Europe itself…
There was a coup attempt the day before the surrender was to be announced post A-bombings. A rogue group of Army officers intended to abduct the Emperor and keep the war going. Ironically it was severely hampered by a power blackout caused by a US bomber raid.
They made two films about it and a History Channel special
That’s what I thought… I’ll have to see what I can look up about this in the historiography. I think many of our views of Japan are still shaped by works like Ruth Benedict’s post war study of Japanese Culture:
We’re still relatively conditioned by western popular culture to see Japanese society as really monolithic in nature, when it’s much more complicated than that.
It’s also, and arguably more so, due to making war too costly in the literal, economic sense by integrating the national economies of Europe into each other.
Starting with the Paris treaty in 1951, founding the ECSC. The ECSC was first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950 as a way to prevent further war between France and Germany. He declared his aim was to “make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible”[*] which was to be achieved by regional integration, of which the ECSC was the first step. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Coal_and_Steel_Community
For sure I think it plays a large role. I think it is also the opposite side of the same coin. “We Don’t want this kind of destruction again.” “These weapons will cause this kind of destruction again (or worse.)”
I think among the diplomatic groups this mindset is more prevalent. But I have less optimism for some of the militarys’ reasoning. If they thought they could get away with a first strike that left one side unable or severely limited the ability to return fire, they may have done so.
Three counter point examples I’d offer is that 1) WWI, which also had new and terrible wonders unleashed on the world, was even fresher in Europe’s mind, yet it was used as a motivator for violence - to right the wrongs of that war. 2) During the Cuban missile crisis, most of Kennedy’s advisors were willing to risk war with Russia by directly bombing or attacking the missile sites. 3) And both sides had detailed plans for limited-nuclear or non-nuclear attacks in Europe (the gamble of if we don’t use ours, you don’t use yours) drawn up during the cold war and likewise defenses put in place to prevent them.
Though to support your point, 1) Kennedy over rode those advisors and employed secret diplomacy. 2) Twice a single Soviet acted to not launch nuclear missiles. Once due to a false alarm at a Air Defense Station, and the other in a submarine during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
You’re right, you and another person brought that up, and certainly that is an exception. Though they were on a much smaller scale than many of the past wars in Europe and stemmed more from the government structure of a forced together people collapsing and then the struggles for independence, vs two or more nations starting wars. Georgia and Ukraine and Russia’s actions there are also exceptions. I still stand by that Europe has been uncharacteristically peaceful lately. (But who knows with BREXIT!
I agree with both of you that one of the byproducts of the cold war was a more unified western Europe through diplomacy and a more connected economy.
But who knows with BREXIT! I have heard from a few different articles/people who think if there is a hard boarder separating the Irelands again, violence will happen again. But I think they are aware of that so hopefully they don’t make that mistake.
What makes Dr. Strangelove so brilliant, is how accurate it is in understanding the mind set. We are not a tragedy, but a statistic. We all need to remember that, we are entire expendable to them. Always.
Yes, because they were young and inexperienced for the most part and keen to establish their manly bona fides… in this case, it took the Russians to be more calm and measured, with Khrushchev drunk as hell, too.
No. We know that a large number of Yugoslavs identified as such prior to the war, and that it was a shift in tone and rhetoric from the Yugoslav government under Milosevic (and in some of the regional parties, especially the Croatian) that led to the wars, not some mystical antagonism between Christians and Muslims or Croats and Serbs. The roots are not ancient, but modern.
I’m not. Human memory is shoddy at best and full of lies at worst. And there are fewer things more dangerous than people who believe they know the past from their own (or their parents) memories.
This. Looking back in the light of information released after the end of the Cold War, Dr. Strangelove was much closer to the truth than anybody could have known at the time. Including Kubrick, despite of all his research, and Kubrick was a researcher’s researcher.
Dan Carlin had a very interesting, accessible, and, to my mind, fair discussion about whether the atom bomb did or did not save more people than it killed in his Hardcore History podcast. The short answer is of course “We’ll never know,” but the longer one necessitates many historical assumptions (some of which you mentioned) and moral reasoning and he makes those very clear. The episode is still free to download: https://www.dancarlin.com/hardcore-history-59-the-destroyer-of-worlds/
I disagree with your opinion if you think European integration is a byproduct of the Cold War.
The European integration process is, as @FGD135 put it, first and foremost a economical project, but the motivation for this is also a peace project. The Schuman plan was indeed also fueled by the raising tensions between Easter and Wester blocs and the apparently unavoidable re-militarisation of Western Germany. To argue that it would be a by-product of the cold war is putting the focus entirely on the conflict, not on conflict prevention!
In a nutshell, you prevent a war between France and Germany if French and German economies need each other.
Schuman is sadly not very present in public memory outside France, as far as I can tell. He ought to be.
There was a William Friedmanesque dumfuk running around the first-world book circuit making himself the toast of the intelligencia with that argument…in the early 19-teens.
And of course there’s Friedman himself with his McDonald’s nonsense.
But we’re also looking at a country (and the largest military in Europe) about to do all that “inconceivable” economic damage to themselves, not over even a tenuous cassus belli, but just because they think Serbians aren’t white enough and something about the shape of bananas.
Haha - I just realized we both switched our points with Ireland. I was hoping recent historical memory of “The Troubles” would be prevent a hard border situation, which supports your point of “historical memory plays a strong role in shaping diplomatic policies.”
Right, but the Cold War was “The West” against the Soviet Bloc. Even before the Soviets had raised the Iron Curtain, there was tension with Russia. But before there could be a “west”, they had to form their ties because of the common threat of Russia. Would they have been so unified if Russia hadn’t been seen as a threat? Would we have helped as much with stuff like the Marshal Plan? Who knows. But I suppose byproduct isn’t a good word. I guess one would have to have a unity for there to be a “side” to oppose the Russians in the Cold War.
Though I will point out that in the past other wars were thought unlikely because of economic ties, yet they still happened. And in modern day, we are still wary of China even though we are now highly intertwined with them. I think economic factors ARE a good way to help prevent conflicts, but they aren’t as good as a deterrent as weapons, IMO.
Fantasy land was expecting a demonstration to have an effect here.
Fantasy is pretending the massive firebombing was somehow a lesser action here.
Actually the other choice was what I already mentioned. Blockade and starvation. Resulting in MILLIONS MORE DEAD THAN BOTH A-BOMBINGS. The atomic bombings were nothing compared to what was already being done to Japan and what we were doing already.
Even after both atomic bombs, there were still elements of the Japanese Army who wanted to keep fighting on!
To bring the 1 million troops of the well equipped and largely successful Kwangtung Army back to domestic shores to meet the invading American forces
They were even willing to abduct the Emperor to do it.
The incident was made into two movies
By permitting an unquestioned, unconditional surrender, the A-bombs SAVED lives on both sides by ending the war when it did. American forces which didn’t have to invade, and Japanese civilians who didn’t have to starve or be incinerated from conventional attacks.