The Lessons of Hiroshima and the War Against the Islamic State

Dr. Sachio Ashida, Professor of Psychology and 9th Dan in Kodokan Judo, 1924–2009.

Dr. Ashida was always open when asked whether the Japanese would have kept fighting despite the bombing. His answer was always the same: Yes!

A Japanese soldier walks through the flattened center of town, near Hiroshima Castle, 2625 feet (800 meters) from the hypocenter in Motomachi District. The 2nd Area Army under Field Marshal Shunroku Hata, a veteran commander in China, defended Kyushu and part of Honshu with its Headquarters in Hiroshima Castle. Chugoku Military District Headquarters, the base of the 5th Division, was also located there. Both military installations were destroyed. (Photo by Wayne Miller)
An aerial view of Hiroshima showing the devastation caused by a single atomic bomb.
Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur, at their first meeting, at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, 27 September, 1945 (U.S. Army Photo, Lt. Gaetano Faillace)
Fighters belonging to the Islamic State group in Anbar, Iraq (Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike the Japanese Emperor, the self-proclaimed Caliphate, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi does not command the same level of devotion among the masses to convince them to surrender.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Wikimedia Commons)

However, the real problem is that our regional partners, despite being equipped with large conventional militaries, are incapable and/or unwilling to address the problem themselves.

As Dr. Ashida taught his Judo students, the difference between defeat and victory is a matter of position. A fighter can be on the bottom and still win through skill and determination. In World War II, the Japanese faced an opponent determined to see the fight to the finish which eventually caused the Emperor to sue for peace. Today, despite being in the dominant position, the U.S. and its Allies and Partners lack the determination to finish the fight.



Military Officer, World Traveler, Novice Storyteller

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store