Galbraith on Bombing

John Kenneth Galbraith ("The Wonders of Modern Technology Were Above; Victory Was on the Ground," Opinion, Feb. 10), and not for the first time, takes a basically valid argument and quickly lets it run out the window. His point of departure, which is correct, is that Allied bombing of Germany failed to cut its wartime production and indeed in some ways goaded that nation to increase its efforts. Where he is wrong is when he proceeds to argue that the bombing had no effect at all, and that the situation in Japan was the same as in Europe.

In fact, our bombing had a most beneficial effect in defeating Germany: We crippled that nation's transportation. Historian William Manchester (in "The Arms of Krupp") writes that as a result, Germany strangled on its own production.

As for Japan, it is certainly true that our naval blockade was of the highest importance in cutting that nation off from the overseas trade that was its lifeline. But Galbraith is wrong when he implies, without actually coming out and saying it, that Japan too was able to maintain its wartime production at full level. In fact, when Japan capitulated in 1945, its industrial production was only 16% of its prewar level.

And if, in Galbraith's words "the bombing did not shorten the war," then how come Tokyo surrendered within a week after we dropped the atomic bombs?


Fountain Valley

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