Richard B. Frank's Downfall Term Paper

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Frank's Downfall And The American Bombing Of Japan

According to Richard Frank, there were three basic options that Americans could have employed with regard to ending the Pacific war during the spring and summer of 1945: "(1) Encirclement, meaning blockade and bombardment; (2) invasion; and (3) both, pursuing encirclement while preparing fully for invasion" (34). Nimitz was one of the experts among others who believed that encirclement was the best option until they could be sure that an invasion would be successful, as an invasion would cause enormous casualties. However, Marshall and MacArthur thought that a blockade and bombardment would indeed avoid the high casualties of an invasion; an invasion might be doable if the Russians entered the war (Frank, 34). MacArthur was the one who nailed down the American options to the following choices: "the first was to encircle Japan, apply maximum airpower, and then attack Kyushu followed by Honshu, or perhaps make a direct thrust to Honshu.

The second option was to blockade and bombard, and the third was to attack Kyushu, install an air garrison, and then go to Honshu" (Frank, 34). Ultimately, MacArthur believed the third option was best, as he felt it permitted a complete application of force of the greater American combat power on land, sea and air (Frank, 34). MacArthur anticipated that Kyushu would be defended by the Japanese but in a light manner which would ultimately put America in a more powerful position for an invasion.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Richard B. Frank's Downfall Assignment

A range of issues had a strong impact on the American decision-making process. For example, geography was something that was strongly considered when it came to the thought of invasion and all of Japan's neighboring countries were taken into consideration. "Korea, China, Hokkaido, and Kyushu became the focus of discussions for intermediate operations. Geography and the potential for 'major, costly and protracted land campaigns against large enemy ground forces' ruled out Korea and China. Hokkaido, either in lieu of Kyushu as an intermediate operation or as a contributory one, earned the advocacy of the army air force" (Frank, 33). Geography is indeed a factor when going to war with any potential country be it for plans to encircle and bombard or to invade. Examining the terrain of nearby countries was an absolute necessity if plans for invasion were going to be seriously considered. The actions of the United States, while focused on Japan, couldn't focus on Japan exclusively. There had to be a more thorough strategy to work for the containment of the bulk of the Pacific.

Another issue that deeply impacted the decision-making process was the status of German. "Quite simply, unless Germany capitulated by early 1945, there would be insufficient resources for any additional major operation between Okinawa and Kyushu. After the German Ardennes offensive in December 1944 thoroughly subdued American expectations for an early end to hostilities in Europe, nothing in the following months could move the tides in the king's favor" (Frank, 33). This was indeed a very significant issue that had a profound impact on strategy in Japan. Unless some real victory was experienced in Europe, there simply wouldn't be enough manpower or resources to properly take care of Japan in an effective manner. German was the giant beast that had to be conquered and the German Ardennes Offensive had dashed American optimism to a significant degree.

Joint Chiefs of Staff also had to consider the ideas of Pacific Commands for the last campaigns (Frank, 34). Given the potential for the first time of truly massive battles on land, the Army was truly in favor for a single commander who was not under the control of the Navy (Frank, 34). Naturally MacArthur was selected, given his victories capturing Luzon (Frank, 1999). While the experts at the time also voted for a pooling of all resources into the Pacific, there was also the concern of the shortage of hospital beds, which they estimated to be in shortage of at 36,000 -- no small number (Frank, 1999). The commanders in charge were truly trying to consider all factors that could be addressed so that Japan would not be threat to security or to the peace of the world and so that Japan would recognize the rights of other states and so that it would also acknowledge its own international obligations (Frank, 1999). All strategists felt that the only way for this to be realistically achieved would be if they received Japan's unconditional surrender (Frank, 1999). "What can be accomplished,' they emphasized, is decisive military defeat and the results equivalent to unconditional surrender, similar to the present situation in Germany. In no case to date in this war have organized Japanese units surrendered'" (Frank, 1999). This was a military achievement that was in fact a grave issue, and a decisive one which impacted strategy, as it indicated that Japan indeed had a strong will and was resolute in its decision to defeat the West. All strategists acknowledged that the notion of unconditional surrender was foreign to the Japanese and was something that they would be resistant to by nature.

This resolute nature of the Japanese nation was one in which had a profound impact on American strategy. General George C. Marshall truly felt that time was the most crucial element of all and felt that the invasion of the Japanese islands was the fastest way to end the war (Frank). However, America was still aware of the fact that seeking an "unconditional surrender" from the Japanese was indeed a lofty notion. "No Japanese government had surrendered to a foreign power in the 2,600-year history of Japan. No Japanese military unit had surrendered in the entire course of the Pacific War. Therefore, the JCS [joint chiefs of staff] concluded that there was no guarantee the U.S. could find a Japanese government that would surrender, and even if it did, that Japan's armed forces would comply with the surrender order" (Frank). The Joint Chiefs of Staff were clear in what they were afraid of and this fear was an issue which definitely impacted American strategy. The JCS was afraid that there would be no organized capitulation of the government and army of Japan (Frank). This mean that basically, invading Japan was a small step out of a series of lengthy and costly steps that would be necessary in order to effectively subdue Japan -- American and allies would need to defeat all five million of Japan's soldiers all over the Pacific (Frank). This was indeed a formidable option.

It's true that Americans had so drastically reduced the Japanese Empire and degraded its war-making capabilities through traditional methods of battle. However, Frank offers insight as to why America ultimately unleashed atomic power as a war-winning weapon. Most historians attribute America's choice to unleash atomic power as related to Japan's refusal of the Potsdam declaration and this is in part the reason that Frank offers. "In late July, Japan's militarist government rejected the Allied demand for surrender put forth in the Potsdam Declaration, which threatened the Japanese with "prompt and utter destruction" if they refused" (history.com). Frank highlights how the full series of Magic Diplomatic Summaries shows how delusional the notion that Japan might have been near capitulation prior to the deployment of atomic weapons (1999). "As the Magic interpreters underscored, not a single diplomatic message originating from Japanese authorities in Tokyo indicated any disposition for peace prior to mid-July" (221). The Japanese media blasted the rejection of the Potsdam Declaration in no uncertain terms, one newspaper calling it a "Laughable Matter" (Frank, 234). The Potsdam Declaration expressed Japan's fate in no uncertain terms: annihilation and destruction were imminent. However, the Japanese were not ready or willing to surrender on allied terms and they expressed that plainly (Tannenwald, 87). Prime Minister Suzuki even issued a statement explaining how the Japanese people did not consider it a thing of value and would just ignore it (Frank, 234). Fundamentally,

Frank illuminates how the Japanese were obstinate and obstinate to their own detriment. This is essentially the argument that has been presented throughout history, though in a more nuanced manner. I do agree with the author's explanation, as it demonstrates how this stubborn adamancy of the Japanese government put them in a stalemate with the United States. The Allied forces wouldn't feel comfortable that the world was safe unless they received the unconditional surrender of Japan. Japan refused to give it and furthermore, promised a fight to the death. Allied forces felt essentially painted into a corner and had to unleash some formidable threats. I agree with the author's argument because it highlights the core opposition between Japan and America. While America had some success with traditional tactics of war in reducing the Japanese military success, there was no sign of that ending and there was no progress with getting Japan to surrender. There was very little indication that Japan would ever surrender on terms other than their own and that was unacceptable to the Allied forces.

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