August 6th, 1945, 70,0000 lives were ended in a matter of seconds. The United
States had dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Today many argue
whether or not the U.S. should have taken such a drastic measure. Was it
entirely necessary that we drop such a devastating weapon? To answer that first
we must look at was going on in the world at the time of the conflict. The U.S.
had been fighting a massive war since 1941. Moral was most likely low, and
resources were at the same level as moral. Still both sides continued to fight
and both were determined to win. Obviously the best thing that could have
possibly happened would have been to bring the war to a quick end with a minimum
of allied casualties. Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb was
entirely warranted and was in the best interest of Americans and the world.
Three factors should be considered to fully realize this. First, what would have
happened should we have not dropped the bomb? Would WWII have ended shortly
afterwards without nuclear arms-not likely. Secondly we must consider the
Japanese people’s extreme dedication to their country and emperor, willing to
give up their own lives without thinking to stop the enemy. Lastly the morality
of nuclear bombing must be explored. While many may argue against the use of
such a seemingly cruel form of attack was unnecessary, it is obvious that the
atomic bomb was the only means to an end of WWII.
What would have happened had the A-bomb not been used? The most obvious answer is that he war would have continued. U.S. forces therefore would have had to invade the home island of Japan. It is hard to imagine the number of additional casualties we would have incurred had a Japanese land war been necessary. Also, our forces would not only have to fend off the Japanese military, but they would also be defending themselves against the civilian peoples of Japan as well. Like the Vietnamese that would come years later, the Japanese government was equipping citizens with any kind of weapon available from guns and knives to spears. Also public support was strongly behind Truman and the allied forces. In the following quote taken from a radio address of the time Harry S. Truman explains what has happened and his motives behind the decision –
“The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. We have won the race of discovery against the Germans. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war.”
This quote embodies the spirit of the American people of the time. The public was eager for a quick end to the war and American casualties. Also Truman threatens to utilize the A-bomb’s power again until we are victorious. In hindsight it is clear the correct decision was made.
How can anyone be certain that Japan would have continued to fight? It is possible that they were preparing for surrender, no one can say for certain exactly what would have happened but by examining evidence of Japanese culture and warfare it is obvious that would not have been the case. At the time of WWII systematic and organized education made efficient \"brainwashing\" possible. In public schools, students were taught to die for the emperor. By late 1944, a slogan of Jusshi Reisho meaning, \"Sacrifice life,\" was taught. In addition to civilian’s dedication to their country, there was a group of military pilots called the Kamikaze. Kamikaze were “suicide” pilots. They would load up an airplane and try to nose dive it into an enemy target. Think about what must be on that pilot’s mind. Imagine the undying love for his country. He would fight to the bitter end for his emperor. The most frightening part of this is that the entire Japanese military thought this way. The fact that the enemy is willing to die so long as you die with him is not something a soldier wants to think about before going into battle. A quote from Japanese emperor Hirohito embodies the spirit of the Japanese people- “We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer the insufferable.” The emperor’s sentiments held true for all of his people who gave their lives for him. A Japanese army slogan of the time was “To die for the emperor is to live forever.” It was not considered a sacrifice to die for your country; it was considered an honor and your duty.
A longer war meant more death. That is the simple fact behind our decision to drop the bomb. Also it appeared that a longer war is exactly what Japan had in mind. Most opponents of the bomb say that it was immoral to drop the bomb on such targets as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it cannot be denied that the major manufacturing of war products was being conducted there. Also leaflets and warnings had been issued to the peoples of those cities warning them of attack. Some say that the U.S. should have warned what kind of attack was coming, but this seems ridiculous. It shouldn’t matter what kind of warning is given, a threat under such conditions should be taken seriously, and civilians should have been evacuated.
The moral issue of dropping the bomb is very controversial. Especially since radiation is a major side effect of the weapon itself. On the other hand though, fire bombings of other Japanese cities had left other civilians equally scarred. If one wanted to argue the issue of radiation as a side effect of atomic bombing, they would have to find a way to argue the side effects of bombing altogether. Is it immoral to use a bomb? No; these are the kinds of things that happen in war, however unfortunate they may be. In this quote Harry Truman again defends and simplistically explains his decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki- “The atom bomb was no ‘great decision’..It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.” Truman and the American public rightly stood behind the use of the atom bomb.
By examining the climate of the world at the time of war, and given all other alternatives, the United States had no choice but to drop the bomb. If we had not, many thousands more American lives would have been lost, most likely on the shores of Japan during the inevitable land invasion. Once on Japanese soil our boys would have had to face off with arguably the most dedicated and fiercest warriors the world has known, willing to sacrifice their lives and those of their families for their emperor and country. While there are still many who would argue the cruelty of nuclear weapons, it is apparent that Harry S. Truman was acting in the best interest of America and the world when he authorized the use of the most devastating weapon mankind has ever created.
The Atomic Bomb…Was it Necessary?