Of course the two brass hats, one Army, on Navy advocated plans that waged was as they best understood it. This is only natural. Both truly believed their command held the key to victory.
The whole Pacific War was an elephant (the Japanese Army) versus a whale (the American Navy). The Japanese wanted a land fight and the Americans wanted a naval/aviation war. Like the preceding paragraph, both wanted to play their strongest cards.
There was no easy way out of this mess. The promises made by the technical warriors are chimeras. But naval blockade and air bombardment are cruel and blunt weapons. Further, even their best hopes of victory were years away.
(Do you think Churchill would have given up to strangulation by U-boats? It is foolish to think the Japanese were not made with the same toughness.)
The American people would not put up with another two or three years of starving the Japanese people. Further, such a plan meant that millions of Chinese, Koreans and other people would have been under Japan’s boot.
(If not for the Holocaust, Japanese atrocities in China would be the defining cruelty of the war.)
So a clean hands-off victory (as the Americans wanted) was years away at best. At some point the American Army would have to kill the Japanese Army. No way around it, it always comes to this.
No American victory in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, or Korea would defeat the Japanese. We had to kill them in Japan. An invasion was need to kill the Japanese Army. No way around it.
OK then, so we have to invade. It would be massively difficult to embark an invasion force in California and sail them to Honshu. We needed intermediate bases. Big ones. We needed places to base our planes, to overhaul our ships and to store mountains of stuff.
Despite McArthur’s plans to take Taiwan, the Philippines would serve as our nearest big base with a string of smaller ones suitable for airfields closer to the target.
MacArthur’s command may have taken Manila for the wrong reason, but it was valuable real estate.
OK, so now it is November 1945. The Olympic landings are fixin’ to happen. Some ships actually sailed from California months ago, some from Hawaii, many more from “nearby” bases. The Japanese now got what they wanted the whole time, the Americans at the limit of their naval power and about to face a huge land battle at the end of a long supply line.
And you know what? I bet the Japanese would have won at this point. It is commonly said this invasion would have been “Three Okinawas.” The difference would have been the Japanese air attack on the fleet would have been much more than at Okinawa. Basically, the Japanese invented the cruise missile and planned to launch swarms of them against the Americans.
It would have been a bloodbath at sea, followed by one on land. Even then, it is not clear that the Japanese would have surrendered. A second invasion, Coronet was planned for.
Nope. Nimitz’s well-thought-out scheme was an American pipedream. The Japanese would not have surrendered promptly under blockade and bombardment. To let them stave would have been to let the Chinese suffer even more. A delay would have let the Red Army march all over northeast Asia.
Honestly, when you look at it all and punch the numbers into your calculator, they way the war ended was a flipping miracle. That is a very hard conclusion to come to.