After a lot of reading about the Pacific Theater in World War II, I’d come to roughly this conclusion, succinctly stated by Steven (whose expertise exceeds anyone else’s I’ve yet met):
The point is that WWII was a war of attrition, not really a war of maneuver. Even the Pacific campaign was more of a war of attrition, and what mainly was subject to attrition was equipment and trained personnel.
This is why I remain conflicted about the decision to use the atomic bomb. I know there’s a healthy debate about it to this day, and unhelpfully the debate tends to mirror the left-right political divide in America, adding to the murkiness.
I think I have to admit that it’s ok not to have a dogmatic opinion about it, but rather to see the decision to drop the bomb as just that, a strategic decision. We can assess the morality, strategy, and potential influence upon modern policy quite separately from the question of whether it should have been dropped or not.
Next time I go to Japan, I will visit Hiroshima. No running away this time.