James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Lessons Learned: The Firebombing of Tokyo

by James M. Lindsay
March 7, 2012


A new installment of “Lessons Learned” is now out. This week I discuss the firebombing of Tokyo, also known as “Operation Meetinghouse,” which began on March 9, 1945. In the video I discuss the destructive power of conventional weapons and explore what lessons their use in 1945 has for understanding international relations today. Here’s a question to consider in light of the power of conventional weapons: what more should the international community be doing to prevent conventional warfare? I encourage you to weigh in with your answer in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoy the video.

If you are interested in learning more about the firebombing of Tokyo and the U.S. bombing campaign against Japan, here are some books worth reading:

Michael J Hogan. Hiroshima in History and Memory. (1996)

Warren Kozak. LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay. (2009)

Craig Nelson. The First Heroes: The Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid–America’s First World War II Victory. (2003)

Ronald Schaffer. Wings of Judgment: American Bombing in World War II. (1988)

Barrett Tillman. Whirlwind: The Air War Against Japan, 1942-1945. (2010)

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