Author: Requested Anonymity
In recent years, many academics and others have condemned President Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as unnecessary and immoral.
Yet this interpretation relies on a poor understanding of history that both lacks perspective and ignores context. Dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives, both American and Japanese. President Harry S Truman his decision to use atomic weapons against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki proved to be one of the most controversial decisions in American history. The controversy has only intensified. More and more people both in America and abroad have condemned President Truman for his decision. But this criticism is based on limited historical knowledge of both the situation Truman confronted and the basis for his decision. Such flawed analysis has been aided by the unfortunate influence of some very bad history such as that written by members of the so called ‘’atomic diplomacy school’’
Truman sought to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki (two major military industrial targets) to avoid an invasion of japan, which Truman knew would mean in his own words ‘’an Okinawa from one end of japan to the other’’. His assumptions were entirely legitimate. By July of 1945 the Japanese had been subjected to months of devastating attacks by American B-29s, their capitol and other major cities had suffered extensive damage. The home islands were subjected by a naval blockade that made food and fuel increasingly scarce. Three million Japanese losses and no end in sight. Despite all that however, japans leaders and especially its military wouldn’t hear anyone advocating for ending the war. Instead japans high command mobilized a large part of the Japanese civilian population into a national militia, which would be deployed to defend the home islands of japan. Even after the two atomic bombs were dropped the military leaders still wanted to pursue that desperate option. But the emperor decided to step in. the atomic bombs forced emperor Hirohito to understand clearly (and in a way his military refuse to understand) that the defense of the homeland was hopeless. It took the unprecedented intervention of the Japanese emperor to break the power structure within the government that wanted to continue fighting a hopeless war, and finally order surrender. Only the dropping of the nuclear bombs allowed the emperor and the ‘’peace faction’’ in the Japanese government to negotiate an end of the war.
All the viable alternate scenarios to secure American victory would have meant a significantly GREATER American and allied and even Japanese casualties. Both civilian and military. According to military estimates at the time at least one million more casualties. As hard as it may be to accept, Japanese losses would have been FAR greater WITHOUT the atomic bombs. And the overall casualties would also have included thousands of allied prisoners of war whom the Japanese planned to execute in case of a homeland invasion. Truman’s use of the atomic bomb should be seen as his choosing THE LEAST AWFUL of the options available to him. Truman’s critics can offer no serious and convincing proposal regarding a viable and less costly alternative.
The atomic bombs:
-shortened the war
-no invasion of japan (which would have killed more than the nukes itself on both sides)
-saved countless more lives on both sides
-ended the brutalization and torture of the conquered people of Asia committed by the Japanese imperial army
Given the alternatives, what would any moral person have done in Truman’s position?