Hiroshima And Nagasaki: The Decision To Use The At Essay, Research Paper
“[It] is not at all certain that American public opinion, if it could be enlightened as to the effect of atomic explosives, would approve of our own country being the first to introduce such an indiscriminate method of wholesale destruction of civilian life.” Scientist and Nobel Prize winner James Franck put it best when he argued that the dropping of an atomic bomb upon the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were completely unnecessary and unjust. “How can a human being with any claim to a sense of moral responsibility deliberately let loose an instrument of destruction which can at one stroke annihilate an appalling segment of mankind? This is now war; this is not even murder; this is pure nihilism. This is a crime against God and humanity which strikes at the very basis of moral existence.” My feelings about the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are that these actions were inhumane and dishonorable, and are two horrendous mistakes that the United States of America will never be able to undo. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Taking the Americans by surprise nineteen ships were sunk and about 2,400 American soldiers and sailors were killed. Four years later, on the sixth and ninth days of August 1945, the Americans attacked the Japanese without warning while using a weapon that “would inflict damage and casualties beyond imagination.” This instrument of total destruction, whose explosion destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and wiped out their population without distinction, is known as the atomic bomb. The attack on Pearl Harbor four years earlier was one of the justifications President Truman gave for his decision. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor was returned a hundred times over as more than 240,000 Japanese civilians were obliterated. The United States was simply being hypocritical with these harsh actions as it edged away from diplomacy and humanitarianism while moving toward immorality and nihilism. These two bombs quickly yielded the unconditional surrender of Japan on August 14, along with the end of American involvement in World War II. Put forth by President Harry Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson, the popular, traditional view that dominated the 50s and 60s was that the dropping of the atomic bombs was solely a military action. Supposedly, it avoided the loss of as many as a million lives in the upcoming invasion of the island of Kyushu. In the 1960s another belief developed that claimed the dropping of the bomb was a diplomatic maneuver aimed at intimating and gaining the upper hand in relations with Russia. Excuses have been made time and time again, but how can a justification be made for an act that “wipe[d] out at one stroke the population of a whole city without distinction – men, women, and children; the aged, the weak, the infirm; those in positions of high authority, and those with no power at all; all snuffed out without being given a chance of lifting even a finger in either defense or defiance.” Another question that arises is: Was the atomic bomb even necessary to end the war with Japan? Essentially, as stated by the Strategic Bombing Survey in 1946, “[t]he Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs did not defeat Japan…Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” Numerous others agreed with this and expressed their view that it was not a necessity, under the conditions at that time, for the “mass extinction” that occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese were already defeated and about to surrender because of the success of sea blockading and use of conventional bombing. America could have spared thousands of innocent lives had out government followed a more honorable and humane course. For instance, the United States could have simply given a warning to the Japanese of our new creation by demonstrating its destructive power publicly. Shortly after the bombings, The Christian Century released an article saying, “there was no military advantage in hurling the bomb upon Japan without warning. The least we might have done was to announce to our foe that we possessed the atomic bomb; that its destructive power was beyond anything known in warfare; and that its terrible effectiveness had been experimentally demonstrated in this country.”
The decision to drop atomic bombs of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is one of the most written about contemporary historical topics. Still, the majority of these articles are polarized – either the dropping of the bombs was an immoral diplomatic maneuver or a glorious military action. It is unbelievable that this argument continues since America was certainly not justified in its actions. Truman and Stimson wanted the American public to believe that an invasion, as an alternative to the atomic bombings, would have cost America one million casualties, but there is no evidence available to support this claim. Honestly, our leaders seem not to have weighed the dreadful consequences and moral considerations involved before sending the Enola Gay out to make its delivery. The least America could have done was give Japan a better warning, such as a demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb rather than dropping leaflets saying, “Surrender or Die.” 240,000 individuals eventually passed away due to the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but was it even worth it? Many people agree that the bombs, which “utterly extinguished” two great cities, did not even defeat Japan and that the country would have capitulated, atomic bomb or not. Nobody knows if this brutal action will come back to get America in the future, but one thing is for sure: “Our future security is menaced by our own act, and our influence for justice and humanity in international affairs has been sadly crippled.” People can learn from their mistakes and hopefully America and the entire world realizes that a mistake like the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never again be repeated.