Dropping of Atomic Bomb by US during WWII
The United States set a record in world history by being the first nation to use atomic weaponry by dropping a bomb on another country during wartime. America’s bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki evoked numerous controversies in the international arena. The primary debates on the matter concern the military, ethical and legal relevance of the nation’s decision. President Truman, Prime Minister Churchill and other associates issued a declaration demarcating the terms of surrender for the Japanese militants following an agreement made at the Potsdam Conference. The ultimatum required Japan to surrender failure to which it would face total destruction. Most of the debaters question the decisions made by the head of state with some citing that there were better approaches that could have been used to address the problem. There is also a controversy on whether the surrender was prompted by the bombings. The decision to drop the atomic bombs is unjustifiable whatsoever. The argument that the explosion resulted to the end of the war is misguided. The action was inherently immoral hence indefensible. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was just a portion of the broader mission, the Second World War. It was the most proximate event at the end of the war and was preceded by various happenings which triggered it. The entry of the United States in the war was necessitated by Japan’s attack on the Pearl Harbor in 1941. The events following the first attack were all taken for revenge and to show military supremacy. The first quarter of 1942 was characterized by several attacks by both sides. During the Bataan death in March, Japan seized over 70,000 American troops based in the Philippines. The militants were forced to trek in a distance of about 100 miles in extremely harsh conditions. The action was very cruel of Japan as many soldiers died before the completion of the march.
The success of the Manhattan project was a crucial event in the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American experts who engaged in the Project had had a successful test of an atomic bomb. The nuclear weaponry was confirmed to be working and could offer a lot of help in making the enemy to surrender (Manhattan Project, 3). “The most terrible bomb in the history of the world” (National Park Service, 1) was produced for mass destruction. Truman had an awful responsibility to make a decision that could lead to massive killing. Truman’s advisory committee had for long debated on punishing Japan with the new powerful atomic weaponry. After the deliberation, the dignitaries settled on the use of the bombs. Furthermore, the multi-million dollar project had cost the nation a fortune, and there was no way that the weaponry would be left unutilized with the cruel Japans not willing to surrender.
President Truman had used various options to prompt the Japans to surrender most of which had proved inviable. It was quite evident that if the American militants continued utilizing the old tricks, the war would not end any soon. More destruction could have been caused by the prolonged periods of war. The conventional bombing of the cities in Japan had been used before and was not effective at all (National Park Service, 1). Truman could also have opted to drop the bombs in unpopulated areas. However, this could hardly help as Japan would only be minimally affected and would not surrender.
Truman and the other dignitaries settled on dropping bombs in populated cities as this was believed to create the desired impression to the unrelenting Japan’s (National Park Service, 3). The bombing was to be done without any prior notice to ensure that Japan did not create a counter mission endangering the lives of the crew carrying out the mission. Truman did not seek to destroy Japan but sought to curtail the possibility of the Nation making any other war. He, therefore, decided to bomb a city with no cultural or traditional relevance. Those who argue for Truman’s decision claim that the president had no ill intentions for the enemy.
Over seven decades since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the debate over the matter is still on. The United States’ citizens had overwhelmingly supported the decision of their president until some critics emerged to oppose the move. In my opinion, Truman’s decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was incorrect. Whether the bombs prompted Japan to surrender or not, they constituted genocide or a war crime (Shepherd). There are undoubtedly some revelations that changed the American’s views over time on the bombing which is the most controversial decision from the Second World War. America used excessive power which was unnecessary and uncalled for in the war with Japan. The scientists who came up with the atomic bombs were opposed to their usage claiming that they were too powerful. The devastation caused by the bombings is no excuse as the cities had an innocent population which had known nothing about criminality.
The bombings portrayed the United States dignitaries as inhumane and led to the questioning of the nation’s moral standing (Shepherd). The atomic bombs claimed the lives of over 250,000 innocent Japanese citizens and harmed a higher number. These bombings could be blamed for the deaths of the mimed population in Japan. America’s merciless destruction of lives could stir outrage and sorrow in any humane individual. The anger against the perpetrators of the evil is heightened by the fact that there were alternatives that could have been used to create a similar effect without necessarily destroying lives. If the bombs were dropped in an open space, the consequences would have been less severe, and Japan would still surrender. The United States should have demonstrated the superiority of their weaponry in less risky areas such as Tokyo Bay. The place near Tokyo Bay was an ideal space to maximize the scope of the warning at the same time minimizing the harm to the Japanese population.
The bombs dropped on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki provided a turning point in the world warfare leaving a long-lasting imprint. They changed the aspects of foreign policies, politics and military practices in the 21st century. The implications of the two bombings are still relevant in the modern societies and will continue affecting nations all over the world even in the coming centuries. The annual commemorations held have always called for nuclear disarmament. These memorials have played a significant role in ensuring that nations do not wage any nuclear war against one another. Scholars have said that the massive destruction in the two cities has successfully worked towards preventing the warring countries from using the atomic weapons. The world is much aware of the deadly consequences of the weapons, and no nation is ready to use the weapons. After the bombing of the two cities, many people would have expected that countries would use the weapons in war to force their enemies to surrender. However, nations engaged in a cold war for close to 60 years and none used the nuclear weapons. Perhaps, this would not have been possible without the lesson from the two cities.In 1995, the Smithsonian’s created an exhibition featuring the refurbished aircraft used to drop the bombs to mark the 50th year since the end of the last and worst world war. This move by the museum led to a heated controversy about how history was to represent the falling bomb on Japan. The museum ended canceling the exhibition due to the inability to address the interests of the key stakeholders. The exhibition of the aircraft would bring the two stories surrounding the bombing together: victory and destruction (Engelhardt and Linenthal, 2). In my opinion, the controversies surrounding the exhibition played a significant role in protecting the image of the United States. The exhibition was unnecessary considering it goals. The Smithsonian’s original design was aiming to emphasize the role of the bombs in ending the war (Engelhardt and Linenthal, 2). The design was not appropriate at all. The critics of the exhibition claimed that the museum focused more on the casualties of the bomb instead of the motivations and its roles in putting the war to an end. The critics were right in their views. Victory and destruction could hardly be balanced in the exhibition. The museum could have used the aircraft to warn against the effects of nuclear weapons. However, America would hardly bow this low as it has always taken the lead in the military arena. The best way to deal with the controversies surrounding the exhibition was to drop the event.
Beyond all the debates surrounding the Second World War, United States is still haunted by the truth that it was the first and the only nation that used the deadly weapon. Although the then president, Harry Truman, who commissioned the use of the weapon never portrayed any regrets over his decision, the innocent blood that was shed must have haunted him at some point. Even those who created the powerful weapon showed some doubt in their mission. The scientist who played the most significant role in developing the weapon, Robert J. Oppenheimer, blamed his actions quoting from the Hindu scriptures. He was cognizant of the fact that he had turned his life into death and a destroyer of human lives. The bombing though a lesson to the world should not have happened.
Engelhardt, Tom and Edward T Linenthal. History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past. New York: Henry Holt and Company, n.d.
Manhattan Project. “Manhattan Project.” 1942.
National Park Service. “Harry S Truman’s Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” n.d.
Shepherd, Geoffrey. It’s clear the US should not have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 06 August 2015. 28 April 2018.