In 1945, two bombs were dropped on Japan, on in Hiroshima and one in Nagasaki. Theses bombs marked the end to the world's largest armed conflict. Despite the ghastly effects of such a weapon, it offered the best choice for a quick and easy defeat of Japan. President Truman, who authorized the use of the atomic bomb, made a wise decision under the circumstances of the war. Fifty years ago this is what people thought. Now many people are starting to find out that there might be more to the story than what was originally thought (Grant 26).
The bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima caused massive amounts of damage and ruined thousands of lives, but they saves many more lives by ending the war quickly. Many questions pop into the heads of people that might have doubts whether or not the bombings were necessary. Such questions might include: Why, exactly, was the bomb dropped? Was the second bomb necessary? Was Japan about to surrender? Was there a way to end the war less savagely? Would our current leaders have made the same decision? Was any authority opposed to the idea? Should we have bombed military bases instead of cities? These and many other questions arise. Before these are analyzed, a brief background on the bombs and the tests are in order (O?Neal 47).
When a man from the Soviet Union successfully split an atom, the question of a bomb immediately arose. Einstein wrote a letter to President Truman stating that if a bomb was possible then the country to own it would have complete power. In light of this information, Truman formed an Interim Committee to research the topic and find out if it was possible. It was funded by Truman's multi-million dollar personal budget. The results came back positive and full financial support was given to the team to start working on it immediately (Grant 29).
The calculations made by the research team were as follows. The bomb would be equivalent to 4,000 planeloads of the current explosives. And estimate on cost and time could not be predicted because some still believed it wasn't possible (Reflections 1).
At the end of a three-year research, a bomb was ready for testing. A test site was cleared in New Mexico. It had a 120-mile radius. Once the President gave the final confirmation, the test commenced. The test was on July 16, 1945, 30 min. before dawn (Teller 4).
The scientist booth was 20 thousand feet away from ground zero. The bomb, weighing nearly 2 ton, was placed on a 70-foot tall tower made with 220 tons of steel. The scientist wore wielding goggles, dark sunglasses, and suntan lotion. When the bomb went off one scientist recalled lifting his glasses a bit and saw the
sand as if it were noon. The light was brighter than any ever seen on earth before. The core temperature exceeded that of 3 times the surface of the sun. The mushroom cloud was instantly formed and climbed to 40 thousand feet. The bomb was equivalent to about 18 thousand tons of TNT. The tower it sat on completely demolecularized. A test rod of about 70 tons of steel embedded in a 20 foot wide concrete base 1000 feet away was never recovered (Purcell 14).
The scientist had mixed emotions about the results of the test. They were happy that it had worked, but they soon realized the awful thing that they had created. The head scientist took a pole that most signed not agreeing to any decision to use the bomb (Grant 47).
Truman was soon notified and a committee to determine alternates to the drops was formed. Few suggestions were made. Many thought that Japan was ready to surrender and a few more months of bombing and they would surrender. Truman didn't want to wait. Also he believed that Japan was willing to fight to the bitter end (Ferrell 34).
Japan possessed little or no offensive threat to American forces. Despite this fact the Japanese were the most tenacious and driven of American foes throughout the war. The battles for Okinawa, Wake and Guam all were ample testament to the Japanese willingness to die in the face of overwhelming odds. The kamikaze was a
perfect example of the Japanese battle attitude. Japanese pilots would strap themselves into planes loaded with explosives and fly them into American ships. By the war's conclusion the Japanese kamikaze attacks had sunk 3 aircraft carriers, damaged 285 craft and sunk a total of 34. The Japanese also did well in increasing support for the war effort. ?Both scientist and publicists were in fact powerful instruments inflaming popular hatred against the democratic countries and in regimenting the people into blindly supporting the war of aggrandizement (Ferrell 16).? This resolve would only have been strengthened had American and Russian forces tried to invade Japan. This almost suicidal type of fighting would have resulted in a tremendous amount of casualties for both sides. American casualties alone were projected at 500,000. The amount of deaths caused by an invasion would easily dwarfed those of the atomic bombings (Purcell 82).
Air power offered American forces a method of remaining relatively unscathed against the fanatical Japanese military while laying waste to entire cities. This was possible because while Japanese ground forces remained strong, air defense had been severely weakened. This gave American bombers free reign over the skies of Japan. American bombing raids over Japan were inflicting massive amounts of casualties and causing tremendous damage to Japanese cities. In fact, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki was not as devastating as
conventional bombing raids over Tokyo or to previous bombing raids over European cities, most notably Dresden. ?In March, 1945, our Air Force had launched the first incendiary raid on the Tokyo area. In this raid more damage was done and more casualties were inflicted than was the case at Hiroshima (Grant 34).? Therefore it is very plausible that had the atomic weapons not been dropped, the number of conventional bombing casualties of the continued air raids would have been much greater than those of the atomic bombings (Grant 34-35)
The last creditable strategy that would force Japan to surrender would be a naval blockade. This would involve the Navy patrolling the waters around Japan and stopping any supplies from getting through. Japan had sufficient military supplies to fight off an American invasion despite a blockade. This meant that if the blockade were to be successful, the Japanese would have to be starved into surrendering. The Japanese mainland could not produce enough food to sustain its massive population for very long. Had a blockade been attempted, any remaining food supplies would have been allocated to the military forces leaving the civilian population to starve. This would have lead to a massive amount of deaths due to starvation amongst the civilian population. This strategy would have lead only to the death of civilians and not weakened the Japanese military or brought Japan closer to surrender (Grant 36).
The side effects of atomic weaponry had not been discovered at the time that Truman gave the order to drop the bomb over Hiroshima. Scientist and military personnel who knew about the atomic bomb were not aware of its radiation side effects. Therefore, President Truman was also unaware of these effects when he made the decision to drop the bombs. This is very important because the atomic bomb was seen just as a really, really big conventional bomb. With the information that Truman had been given, dropping an atomic bomb was much like a conventional bombing raid. The atomic ...
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