Hiroshima Essay, Research Paper
Was the invention of the atomic bomb the creation of just another weapon, or the creation of a doomsday device? For over fifty years, the controversy over whether or not it was necessary to drop the atomic bomb to conclude World War II has continued to question America and the rest of the world. In war, there is no sanction on how big and bad a weapon can be. Weapons are made to kill. And kill they do. For if the United States had not dropped the atomic bomb and finally closed World War II, the world might be a very different place today.
Since the start of World War II, America had been in a race with Germany and the Soviet Union to build the first atomic bomb. On August 2nd 1939, Albert Einstein sent a letter to American President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoting the study and invention of an atomic bomb, and, in 1941, Roosevelt initiated the Atomic Bomb Project in hopes to win the nuclear race which would give the United States more leverage against non-allies. Also known as the “Groves Project,” due to the fact that General Leslie Groves was the project leader; or the more popular name, the “Manhattan Project,” it was decided to keep efforts in making the bomb a secret from most cabinet members, all of the United States Congress, Vice President Truman, and even our ally the Soviet Union, in particular. On January 20th, 1945, Harry S. Truman was sworn into office within 3 hours after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. (”Atomic Bomb”), a complete newcomer and uneducated director of the Manhattan Project. The public did not only question faith in Truman, but Truman had little faith in himself in taking on presidency during the war. Truman said, ” I m not big enough for this job, boys, he said tearfully to a group of reporters, if you ever pray, pray for me now ” (Thomas 1). On July 16, 1945, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the Manhattan Project proved to be a success as an atomic bomb was successfully tested. On August 6, 1945, President Truman sanctioned the first ever use of an atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later a second was dropped on Nagasaki. Less than one month later on September 2nd, 1945, Japan signed an official document of surrender on the one condition that their emperor stay safe. America had successfully accomplished its goals; defeat Japan while at the same time showing its worldwide super power abilities.
” I have often been asked, Otto Frisch wrote many years afterward of the moment he understood that a bomb might be possible after all, before he and Peierls carried the news to Mark Oliphant, why I didn t abandon the project there and then, saying nothing to anybody. Why start on a project which, if it was successful, would end with the production of a weapon of unparalleled violence, a weapon of mass destruction such as the world had never seen? The answer was very simple. We were at war, and the idea was reasonably obvious; very probably some German scientists had had the same idea and were working on it. ” (Rhodes 325). The action of dropping the atomic bomb was morally justifiable, and under no circumstances can we question the intentional death of hundreds of thousands of people, who, in fact, were our enemy.
The atomic bomb was ultimately used against Japan, but it was built as a response to a German threat. In late 1938, German scientists discovered how to split the uranium atom, releasing nuclear energy. When physicists in the United States learned of this discovery, many feared that Hitler might acquire a frightening new weapon: an atomic bomb. Refugees from the Nazis, most notably the Hungarian physicists Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner, feared this possibility so much that they began the search for a way to warn Western governments.
Truman confronted a complicated situation in Europe and in the Far East. Japan, although weakened, was not willing to surrender. The atomic bomb offered a way to change that. A bloody invasion loomed if atomic bombs did not force the Japanese to surrender.
The decision to drop the atomic bomb was a difficult one that would affect the rest of the world for years to come. Before the bomb was scheduled to be dropped, the United States War Department was predicting a cost of some 500,000 American lives to be lost as the cost to invade and defeat Japan (Atomic Bomb). The United States regarded the matter of dropping the bomb as exceedingly important. America had just gone through a bitter experience at Okinawa (the last major island campaign when the United States lost more than 12,500 men killed and missing and the Japanese more than 100,000 killed in eighty-two days of fighting). (Rhodes 687). This loss of American lives would not be tolerated, and an alternative method to defeating Japan was needed. The Japanese demonstrated that they would not surrender and that they would fight to the death. It was expected that resistance in Japan, with their home ties, would be even more severe. The United States had killed 100,000 people in Tokyo in one night of (conventional) bombs, and it had had a seemingly no effect whatsoever. (Rhodes 688). The bombs destroyed the cities, but it had not put a dent into their morale, which was what was most important. “So it seemed quite necessary, if we could, to shock them into action . We had to end the war; we had to same American lives.” (Rhodes 688). Either we risk more American lives, or we silence the Japanese in one quick swipe of the hand. From the minute Truman was inaugurated until the surrender of the Japanese, the atomic bomb went undoubted; it was thought that the atomic bomb would be dropped, and no one, including Truman had the desire to avoid its use.
America s drive to use the deadly weapon was to end the war as soon as possible and do it with minimal loss of American. The Target Committee of the Manhattan Project concluded that the choice of America s target for the bomb would all depend on how it would do its deadly work in terms of the balance of heat and radiation the blast would produce but is was argued that the target should be a military one so that the number of civilian lives lost would be limited. The target selection had three main points that it had to comply with: One, they must be important targets in a large urban area of more than 3 miles in diameter. Second, they must be capable of being damaged effectively by a blast; and third, they are unlikely to be attacked by next august. (Dannen). After the atomic bomb was tested successfully in late July, Truman wrote in his diary, “It may be the fire destruction prophesized after Noah and his fabulous Ark.” (Atomic Bomb). This entry into his diary clearly shows that Truman did not have much reserve for holding back the bomb. While Truman seems to be making a connection with the power of the atomic bomb to the power of god, it did nothing to stop him; if anything it made it more glamorous to use. Also around this time, Truman insisted to the American public that the atomic bomb would be solely used on military targets, but the truth of the matter was that neither Hiroshima nor Nagasaki were “purely military” targets, and Truman led the American public to believe that they were. Truman, in making his decision, “was responsible for Americans who would have to invade; conscious as well of Japanese who would die in a battle for their home islands; wielding a weapon of vast power; knowing that Japan had already been brought to the brink of surrender” (Powers 23). Truman, though, as well as the rest of the members involved in the Manhattan Project opted towards using the bomb despite the cruel amount of destruction it would cause, and despite internal criticism and lobbying against its usage by some of the scientists; because it would have a decisive effect upon America s postwar foreign policy. Despite Truman s humanitarian speeches, he did not hesitate to use the bomb (Atomic Bomb), When Truman heard of the bombing he said, “This is the greatest thing in history.” (”Why”). At the time, it seemed as if Truman and the United States had achieved something great, and it did.
It was generally phrased by Americans that the atomic bomb was needed to “impress the world,” especially the Soviets. Once the bomb had been developed, the United States no longer needed Soviet support in the war against Japan, so America used the bomb as a power-play against the USSR with intentions of intimidation. The Soviet Union had already gained European land through secret agreements at the Yalta Conference held from February 4, until February 11, 1945. Attendees of the meeting, the Big Three leaders, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin intended to discuss what the war policy would be after the surrender of the Germans. They completed the plans for the four-power military occupation of Germany. In addition to discussion of German surrender, President Roosevelt obtained a promise from Stalin to enter the war against Japan ninety days after the surrender of Germany in return for United States support of Soviet acquisition of territories lost in the Russo-Japanese; as well as Soviet war dominance on Outer Mongolia and Manchuria. The Soviets also received eastern Poland, the southern half of Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands. Both Britain and the Untied States were criticized as being excessively generous to the USSR, but the concessions were made at a time when Eastern conflict was expected to continue many months after Germany s defeat, and the United States still needed Soviet, allied support. This was also done to keep the Soviet Union happy and trustful (”Decision”), because the United States “did not want to create a nuclear arms race” (Rhodes 527-528), with the Soviets. Just because the Soviets did not actually have the actually weapon in their hands, they had limited information and could get jealous and start their own project for building an atomic bomb. Also, “If the Russians did not trust us in time of war when we were their allies and when we were standing by their side protecting their homeland as they were under invasion, what reason do we have to believe that they would be our friends in time of peace when they were in no particular danger?” (”Decision”). “The technology of war was already being hailed as the symbol of peace, and it was becoming increasingly clear that instead of promoting American postwar aims, wartime atomic energy policies had made them more difficult to achieve” (Sherwin 238). A second conference, the Potsdam Conference was held from July 17, until August 2, 1945, to converse about postwar procedures. Truman, Roosevelt s successor, Churchill and Stalin agreed upon German disarmament, de-Nazification, and demilitarization, also agreeing that all Nazis and Nazi supporters guilty of war crimes should be tried. With Truman, Stalin renewed his pledge to declare war on Japan. At the Potsdam Conference, differences among allies were exposed. Britain and the United States refused to accept the pro-soviet, provisional government that Stalin headed in Poland, since they did not find it to be democratically based. Britain and America also disagreed with Stalin s condemnation of free elections in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Concluded in much disagreement, the Potsdam Conference made the United States realize that, with the atomic bomb, they no longer needed Soviet support or entry into the war. In fact, they ” did not want the Soviets to enter the [Pacific] war.” (Rhodes 690). The United States wanted to keep the Soviets from entering the war against Japan to keep them from gaining any additional land and power. The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, and another on August 9th. The Soviets entered the war on August 8th, when they saw what the Americans were In the midst of accomplishing. The United States knew that, with the bomb, they would gain power and recognition as well as preventing the Soviets from gaining any.
Though there were benefits to the use of the atomic bomb, a large number of questions and condemnation was displayed when the American public discovered that President Truman and his administration had neglected to make and effort or consideration in carrying out an alternative use. Many possible alternatives could have been carried out, the first, which most likely would have been the most productive, was a non-combat demonstration. If the United States were to only show the Japanese what the atomic bomb could do, instead of actually using it on them, they would have observed the horrendous destruction and extreme death toll it would have on them. At that point, the reality of the atomic bombs power would have overwhelmed the Japanese and they would have no choice but to surrender. Also, the United States could have continued to carry out its conventional bombings of Japanese installments, cities, naval bases etc. While this would still have a high death toll, it would have stopped the dropping of the atomic bomb and in effect, the birth of the nuclear age. Also, America could have taken a less offensive approach to Japan s defeat. By modifying its unconditional surrender demand by guaranteeing the safety of Japan s emperor, Japan would have been more likely to consider surrendering. Evidence shows that by using alternative tactics to dropping the bomb, America could have probably still ended the war by November as well as avoiding the scheduled invasions, which would cause thousands of American soldiers to lose their lives.
The effects that the atomic bomb had on the world at the time it was dropped were outrageous, but fifty years later those same effects are being taken more deeply into consideration. The most horrifying and ongoing effects that the atomic bombs had was the introduction of nuclear warfare into the world. Nuclear weapons have the power to kill humanity and today, with the number of nuclear weapons in the world, America and the former Soviet Union could annihilate each other in less than one hour. What started with America s use of two atomic bombs in World War II has escalated into hordes of deadly weapons. The atomic bombs, the dawn of the nuclear age, was also a predicator of the Cold War. ” The problem of our satisfactory relations with Russia [was] not merely connected with but [was] virtually dominated by the problem of the atomic bomb, ” (Bernstein 401), voiced a former member of the Manhattan Project when asked about the bomb s connection to the Cold War. Despite the bomb s downfalls, the world learned a valuable lesson from the destruction the bomb caused in Japan, and though threats of nuclear war were issued in the following years after World War II, the world has avoided devastation for more than fifty years.
America and the rest of the world was shown one of times greatest feats on the memorable august 6th of 1945. Between the dates of August 6th, and August 9th, 1945, the two atomic bombs dropped claimed some 200,000 Japanese lives (Atomic Bomb). The morality of the decision to drop the atomic bombs continues over fifty years later, to puzzle the world. True, the bombs took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives, but they also concluded World War II immediately, stopped the killing, and saved the lives of 500,000 American lives that would have been lost if we had used an alternative approach. (Atomic Bomb). This combination of saving American lives and the immediate end to the Second World War out weigh the loss of enemy lives. At the time the bombs were dropped, Japan was our enemy due to the fact that they led a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, claiming hundreds of American lives.
America and the rest of the world was shown one of times greatest feats on the memorable august 6th of 1945. Between the dates of August 6th, and August 9th, 1945, the two atomic bombs dropped claimed some 200,000 Japanese lives. The morality of the decision to drop the atomic bombs continues over fifty years later, to puzzle the world. True, the bombs took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives, but they also concluded World War II immediately, stopped the killing, and saved the lives of 500,000 American lives that would have been lost if we had used an alternative approach. (Atomic Bomb). This combination of saving American lives and the immediate end to the Second World War out weigh the loss of enemy lives. At the time the bombs were dropped Japan was our enemy due to the fact that they led a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, claiming hundreds of American lives.
The dropping of the atomic bombs also brought about a new kind of warfare to the world, nuclear warfare. Nuclear war is one of the most feared aspects of the 21st century. The closest the world has come to nuclear war was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. The Soviets had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of the United States. U.S. armed forces were at their highest state of readiness. This scare brought about new regulations in addition to old ones about using/banning atomic bombs. “As American-Soviet relations deteriorated, Hiroshima and Nagasaki rose as symbols of a new American barbarism, and as explanations for the origins of the cold war” (Sherwin 238). Yet still today, the black market can provide willing terrorists with the means to destroy the world.