While watching the movie The Fog of War [transcript], which is Robert S. McNamara's commentary about his involvement in, among other things, World War II and the Vietnamese War, I was shocked to hear him say that before the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 [see video], under the command of General Curtis LeMay, United States B-29 planes firebombed (using napalm -- a jellied gasoline) 67 Japanese cities.
U.S. B-29s fly over Tokyo
Tokyo in ruins after the March 10, 1945 firebombing
Tokyo after the firebombing
McNamara's comment on the bombing was this: LeMay said that "If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals." "And I think he's right," says McNamara. "He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals." . . . "LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"
While McNamara talks about the firebombing in the movie, there is a very fast sequence of frames in which the bombed Japanese cities are named, with a comparison of the size of the Japanese city to a U.S. equivalent, plus a percentage of the Japanese city destroyed. To get all this information, I had to advance the DVD frame-by-frame -- otherwise the whole thing shoots by you in a blur. Below is the information.
|Name of Japanese |
|Percentage of the|
|Equivalent in size to |
the following American city
|Wakayama||50||Salt Lake City|