President Truman’s Decision
August 6th, 1945. That was the day the first atom bomb was used in war. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the very same country. The result of this was the end of war between the USA and Japan. Unfortunately, another result of this was approximately 220,000 human lives that were killed because of only two bombs (“We Shouldn't”, 2016). A lot of time went into deciding whether or not the decision to drop the bombs was the right thing to do. In the end, President Truman and his advisors agreed that this was necessary to do and it was for the greater benefit of the United States of America. But, was it really the best decision? I strongly believe that President Truman should not have given the go-ahead to drop two atomic bombs in Japan. The reasons are that Japan was already surrendering, the Soviet Union was already on their way to fight Japan and the United States wouldn’t have lost a million lives if they didn’t drop the atomic bombs.
The first reason why President Truman should not have let the atomic bombs drop is because Japan had already basically surrendered. The only thing Japan wanted was to keep their emperor (Commentary, 2015). However, the United States wanted an unconditional surrender. The emperor of Japan was basically a figurehead and nothing more (Commentary,2015). He could be compared to the queen of England today. So for the United States not to take the conditioned surrender was not the right thing to do. Especially, since after they dropped the bombs, the United States made peace with Japan by letting them keep their emperor anyways (Commentary). The Chairman of the wartime Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William D. Leahy was quoted saying “It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender....” (“We Shouldn't “, 2016) Not only did Japan already ask for a surrender, but the Soviet Union was on their way to Japan. Stalin told Truman that his troops would be in Japan on August 15th, 1945 (“Was Dropping”, 2016). That’s a mere couple days after the bombs were dropped. If Japan was already surrendering with only the United States invading it, it would most certainly reconsider an unconditional surrender once the Soviet Union got there. That is if the United States was still so desperately wanting the unconditional surrender.
One of the reasons that the United States had dropped the atomic bombs was to send an assertive signal to the Soviet Union. If the United States wanted to establish dominance to the Soviet Union, they could have just dropped an atom bomb in an uninhabitable area. This would have shown the power of the weapon as well as wouldn’t have killed so many innocent civilians. The United States debated inviting some the Soviet scientists to the testing of the bomb but in the end decided not to for some reason. Speaking of civilians, the United States dropped both bombs in areas that were not of any huge military strategic significance. In fact, the atomic bombs were dropped in two cities that were not only mostly civilian populated but also densely populated with civilians. If anything, the United States could have dropped the atom bomb in or near Tokyo bay which would have sent a huge warning shot to Japan and most likely led them to an unconditional surrender. Tokyo bay would have been a really good spot to drop the atom bomb if the United States really wanted to drop it. Tokyo bay is a large open area and is right next to Tokyo which housed all of Japans leaders, including the emperor (Commentary, 2015). The United States had already made massive bombings in Europe and Japan that killed many civilians. Dropping the bomb in the Tokyo bay would have accomplished everything that dropping the atom bomb on a city would do, except without the thousands of casualties.
A second atom bomb was dropped in Nagasaki only days after the first was dropped on August 6th in Hiroshima. Japan did not even have enough time to understand what happened in Hiroshima since unlike what the United States said, there were no warnings issued of any nature to Japan about an atomic bomb being dropped (“Was Dropping” 2016). Japan would have most certainly surrendered in any fashion the United States wanted them to without the need of a second atom bomb. There was an estimate given by President Truman and others that if the atomic bombs were not dropped, it would have caused the United States around a million casualties. There were studies done and showed to the president at the time the bombs were dropped that the number of casualties would have been around 40,000-50,000(“We Shouldn't”, 2016) which is only 4-5% of the million casualties that was told to the public. The Japanese were already trying to surrender when United States dropped the bomb and the U.S. still ultimately gave them the terms they first refused. This makes the claim that the United States would have had to invade Japan highly unlikely.
Another reason that the United States justified dropping the atomic bombs was because they stated that all of Japan, including civilians would fight to the very end to uphold the Bushido Code (“Was Dropping” 2016). The Bushido code states that a true warrior must hold loyalty, courage, veracity, compassion, and honor as important, above all else (“Was Dropping” 2016). However with the day and night aerial bombings from the United States, lost battles and thousands of casualties before the atom bombs were even dropped, Japan, including its civilians had been run down and were already surrendering (“We Shouldn't”, 2016). Civilians upholding the Bushido code was really not a justified argument for why the atom bombs were dropped.
The atomic bomb caused chaos, despair and fear in the men, women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. John Hershey writes about Mr. Tanimoto right after the atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima: “He was the only person making his way into the city; he met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns--of undershirt straps and suspenders and, on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to the skin), the shapes of flowers they had had on their kimonos.” (Hersey, pg 29) The atomic bombs caused so much pain and suffering and for what cause? Japan had already asked for a surrender. Yes, they wanted to just keep the Emperor who was a figurehead and had no actual authority (Commentary, 2015). But, after the United States dropped the atomic bombs, they let Japan keep their Emperor anyway. Dropping the first bomb in Hiroshima was not enough for some reason to the United States since a few days later, a second one was dropped in Nagasaki. Before Japan even really knew what happened in Hiroshima due to all powerlines being destroyed (“Was Dropping” 2016) in Hiroshima, they were hit again in Nagasaki. As stated earlier, dropping even a single atomic bomb in Tokyo bay would have done everything that dropping two atomic bombs on a civilian population would have done, except without all the casualties. Dropping the bomb in Tokyo bay would have scared Japan into even an unconditional surrender. It would have also intimidated the Soviet Union and saved the United States from sending anymore of their military. All of which were big points for why the United States wanted to drop the atom bombs in the first place. The statistic about how the United States saved a million people was not true and just something Truman and others said to partially justify the killing of around 220,000 casualties (“We Shouldn't”, 2016). The reality was that by dropping the atomic bombs, the United States would have saved 5% of the figure that President Truman stood behind. I believe that President Truman should not have given authority to drop the atomic bombs in Japan. The results of it were catastrophic yet could have been avoided with several different other routes.
Commentary. "It’s Clear the US Should Not Have Bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki." Quartz. N.p., 06 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
Hersey, John, Warren Chappell, and Edith Goodkind Rosenwald. Hiroshima. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946. Print.
"Was Dropping the Atomic Bombs a Crime Against Humanity?" The Liberty Web True Insight into World Affairs The Online Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
"We Shouldn't Have Bombed Hiroshima." We Shouldn't Have Bombed Hiroshima. Spectacle, n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.