Atomic Bomb Sample Essay, Example Composition Writing on Atomic Bomb
Essay Example 1: Dropping of the Atomic Bomb
Some deem this drastic event as necessary, some say it was cruel and ruthless, while others have yet to form an opinion between if it was entirely bad or essential. The atomic bombs, known as Little Boy and Fat Boy, left devastation all over Japan’s cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when two U.S. planes dropped them from above. The bombs were supposedly intended to end World War II, but yet the morality of the situation is often called into question when seeing the wake of their destruction. With any little bit of knowledge on what happened, one can become aware of the various viewpoints and grasp a new understanding of the material. These perspectives are often put into three categories: the question of “Was it truly Necessary?”, and its counter-argument, along with demolition and effects.
The annihilation left by the second atomic bomb dropped, Fat Boy, over Nagasaki made for a quicker decision by Japan to pull out of the war, thus ending it. However, there was much less activity from Japan in those final months, according to Mark Weber from the Institute for Historical Review. He states, “Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan's air force had been all but totally destroyed” (Weber). Along with this he mentions the U.S. and its incessant rain of bombs over Japan’s cities, turning them to ruins. Weber then begins to point out other areas in which the Japanese fell short. These include how Japan’s factories were producing little, if any, weapons due to the severe lack of oil and other raw materials thus greatly inhibiting progress. Along with this, the residential areas were a quarter of the way destroyed with the transportation system near complete meltdown and the Japanese diet on the verge of sub-starvation. Weeks before the atomic bombs were dropped waves of five-hundred and counting B-29 Bombers raided Japan’s skies leaving nothing behind. Fifty-six square miles of the Japanese capital was laid to waste and provided the American Air Force General Curtis LeMay to boast saying that American bombers were "driving the Japanese back to the stone age” (Weber). Henry H. Arnold, commanding General of the Army air forces, also declared, "It always appeared to us, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse." Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye verified this statement when he said, "Fundamentally, the thing that brought about the determination to make peace was the prolonged bombing by the B-29s” (Weber). Weber brings up the many moments in history when before the atomic bombs were released how the Japanese had initiated peace terms and made arrangements to throw the white flag. To further his point in why it was unnecessary he recalls the distaste of Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff during the time, towards the bombs when he said, “…that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.” All of these positions on the release of the atomic bombs were negative along with the Japanese admittance of a soon to come desire for peace go towards proving the truth as Weber puts it in why it was not necessary.
With this being said, an opponent of Weber is Peter D. Zimmerman, who writes frequently on arms control and national security issues. Zimmerman has an entirely different opinion and thoroughly believes the atomic bombs were key to winning the war as soon as possible without further American losses. He begins by mentioning the numerous POWs that the Japanese held captive and that due to the lessening of food they would be executed in order to divert the scarce food rations where they were being held to the rest of the Japanese army. He then provides a statistic on the number of U.S casualties caused by Japan’s strength: a quarter of a million soldiers. Along with this, the U.S. had completely underestimated Japan’s forces and strength. One of the prominent areas the Japanese and their ground force units were staying in was an island known as Kyushu. The forces being supplied to the island dramatically increased from 120,000 to 579,000 in order to hold off the American assault. With these numbers it is unlikely America would come out unscathed by not losing too many soldiers. General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur's intelligence chief, said of Japanese reinforcements, "the end is not in sight (Zimmerman)." Along with this Willoughby replied that with their strength it was definitely not a recipe for victory. Zimmerman infers when he says, “The ability to move that many troops in such a short time demonstrated that Japan had both the will and the ability to continue the war for months to come. Not only was the force in place but so were the logistics and supplies to sustain it in the field and against an invading army.” With this being said Zimmerman parts leaving behind one last little bit of information. He says, “The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki served three major purposes: it terminated the conflict instantly, saving American lives, it insured a united Japan rather than leaving half the country to the same fate as Korea; and perhaps it provided an example which has deterred the use of nuclear arms for 55 years.” Zimmerman is right when he mentions the last use of the atomic bomb and it is fortunate for the destruction inflicted by the bombs was disastrous.
The havoc wreaked by the two bombs, Little Boy and Fat Boy, is much more than most people make it out to be. The next author is from the U.S. Department of Energy and he writes that once the blast first occurred, a blinding white lit up the sky burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin and the shadows of bodies onto walls (The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima). Then a sudden blast wave followed and rocketed bystanders off their feet. Every building except those strongest and furthest away was instantly sent to the ground. The author also mentions how nearby birds flying burst into flames and fell from the sky along with any type of combustible material such as paper that was within 10,000 feet ignited. Small fires erupted all around the cities and help in putting them out was significantly slow due to water line breaks that had also occurred. Radiation sickness was common and continued to claim victims and their lives for weeks to follow. Cancer was prominent and due to radiation fallout it took hold of many survivors and even generations to come.
The charts seen at the bottom can more accurately show the devastation and effects caused by the two bombs as well as the picture. These go to show just how potent these bombs truly were and proved they really were a new kind of bomb. The author presenting the information is not seen as an opponent of dropping the bombs, but more as a concerned individual as to the effects and outcomes of Japanese civilization. The charts provided are from the Yale Law School and are presented as facts with no other intentions.
When comparing the two authors from the last two paragraphs, one can see that they both have two separate intentions. The first, from the U.S. Department of Energy, attempts to portray gruesome and terrifying images to his readers. The intent is to realize the various consequences that erupted from the droppings; whereas, the second author from the Yale Law School depicts only charts to show the magnitude of the devastation. This is a clear separation between the factual and emotional sides of the bomb droppings. The emotional side plays on the heart strings and allows the readers to somewhat realize the effects on humans physically and exactly how things were destroyed. The factual side just provides numbers so one might know the extent of devastation in terms of the numbers of things destroyed or people lost. However, both of these are crucial, especially when looking at them together, when developing one’s opinion.
There will always be disagreement on whether the dropping of the atomic bombs was truly necessary or if they were just so America could prove its strength. What is known are the effects of the atomic bombs. They mean death and destruction to all and for those to come for their effects do not just disappear, but instead linger affecting future generations. The key to history is learning from one’s or others’ mistakes and not repeating those same mistakes or going about them in a different way so as to prevent the same end result. In other words, mankind cannot change history and stop the atomic bombs from happening; so mankind must learn from his actions in the past in order to not repeat anything that could be that detrimental. The atomic bombs have impacted others on a greater scale than most people will ever realize. They left a mark in time that will always be remembered. America as a whole will continue to think of it as a necessary course of action, but once one understands the facts only then will they actually discern how necessary it really was.
Essay Example 2: Was the Dropping of the Atomic Bombs Necessary?
One of the most important events in the last century is the atomic bomb strike on Japan. United States dropped two atomic bombs, firstly on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and then on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, to end the Second World War. The war ended, but when the casualties - approximately 210,000 Japanese civilians - and the damage of the atomic bomb was seen, observers questioned whether the atomic bomb had been necessary to end the war. The argument continues to this day, and what I will show is that the US had other means of ending the Pacific war; that, in fact, peace was not the only reason for dropping the first nuclear bombs; the US had also economic, scientific, nationalistic and political reasons for using them, and that is what makes the action unethical.
In the last weeks of the Second World War, the Japanese armed forces were close to defeat. US forces had invaded many islands around the Japanese and they were getting closer. They had more soldiers and more weapons but in spite of these US Army’s casualties were increasing rapidly, as were the Japanese who fought more ferociously the closer US soldiers came to their homeland as over half of all losses suffered in the Pacific (including prisoners of war who died in captivity) occurred between July 1944 and July 1945 (Death Toll, 4). The United States army was fully intended to invade Japan to end the war, but they knew that it would cost many American lives. The US’ main concern was to end the war in victory with least possible cost in lives of the soldiers in their army. Until that time, they had 106,118 causalities and that number was increasing every passing day (At the end of the war, total American causalities would be 291,543).
This was one of the biggest concerns that Truman had. The US government wanted a quicker and a certain victory, at this moment; they saw the atomic bomb as a savior. President Harry S. Truman expected as many as 250,000 US soldiers might be killed during the invasion of Japan. The US had every reason to fear that an invasion of Japan would be disastrous. Japanese soldiers were fighting as long as possible which meant a long war for both sides. Moreover, there were 4.5 million Japanese soldiers approaching to Japan through Asia. The basic policy of the present Japanese government was to fight as long and as desperately as possible in the hope of avoiding complete defeat. Besides, until that time not a single Japanese soldier had surrendered. The ratio of captured to dead Japanese soldiers was 1:120; for Allied soldiers, 4:1 (Hiroshima Pros, 2). They all were fighting to death, which expressed itself in Kamikaze attacks by planes and soldiers.
In addition to Japanese army, there was the civil defense. Nearly all of the Japanese civilians were armed with every kind of weapon; from ancient brass cannon to bamboo spears, or strapped explosives to their bodies to explode tanks as kamikazes. Also, nearly all of them were involved in building supplies for the Japanese army, which was one important reason of dropping the atomic bombs to Japan.
An atomic bomb strike seemed to United States as a less costly solution, in terms of American lives. Truman believed that it would be a certain victory if they drop the Little Boy on Hiroshima as when he was told about the successful tests at Alamogordo on July 16, while he was in Germany, he immediately authorized the use of the bombs as two were available right away (Power and Culture, 3). This humanitarian reason – saving lives - was one of the most significant reasons of dropping the A-bomb. Apart from these good reasons, US had lots of ulterior motives that made the Atomic bomb strikes almost unethical and non-humanitarian.
Besides the victory and saving the soldiers from possible death, the scientific aspect of the nuclear program, in a way, was also important to the Americans. US scientists had tested atomic bomb before the strike and saw its great destructive power, but were not sure of the radioactive damage it might do, but an A bomb strike directly made to a city would be a very important experiment for science as it would combine with the explosives like arsenals in the area. The destruction it can make when dropped on a city would be more than the tests as which will be seen when the Little Boy was dropped.
As part of the scientific reasons, there is the fact that Hiroshima had not been attacked since the beginning of the Second World War. United States kept Hiroshima out of war, they did not drop a single bomb on it but in the end, they used the city by the means of scientific achievement. When they completed building the atomic bomb, it was certain that Hiroshima would be one of the nominees for the A-bomb strike as it would have been chosen from the three cities; Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, which were the few major cities left unharmed (Making, 7).
After the decision of using the atomic bomb on Japan, US government managed the targets not as soldiers or military bases, since atomic bombs were directly dropped to cities, which led the death of hundred of thousands of civilians. After the first bomb, Little Boy was dropped, US waited Japan for three days to surrender and after they dropped another bomb to Nagasaki, on August 9, 1945. The Japanese should have been given more time to surrender before the second bomb. However, for the US it was also important to lead the Japanese to believe that the US had an arsenal of atomic bombs (Hiroshima Pros, 2), which would quicken Japanese possible surrender period Japanese even could not understand what was going on until the second dropping of A bomb, Fat Man. America did not choose any of these options. With the thought of saving American lives - which was no doubt humanitarian, understandable and necessary - she simply managed to drop the bombs. At this point, we can relatively see the US’ desire of impressing Japan as an ulterior reason of the A-bomb strike.
America easily showed her great power to the world in the end. US had fewer losses after strike, they won the war, and surely impressed the entire world by demonstrating the bomb. In spite of the fact that America was a superpower of the world at that time, this action would make it to be seen more powerful. Diplomat Minister Kase, who had done more than any other diplomat to urge the Tokyo government to end the war, “feared that the new weapon would most surely bring about a third world war and that by using it America had transformed itself into something unknown, something far more fearful than before” (Power and Culture, 2-3).
America’s use of nuclear weapons had more reasons than wining the Second World War; it was also conducting a scientific test that had long been planned and ranked with the medical experiments conducted in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan; the US was also making use of a device that had cost $2 billion to develop; and there is little doubt that Truman considered the desires of the American voter. These ulterior motives undermine the given reason for using the A-bomb
In fact, many high officials of America and generals were opposed to the use of the bomb. For example, Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard (Whose thoughts were exactly like the General Dwight Eisenhower) suggested the Japanese be warned and that some assurance about the treatment of the emperor might induce the Japanese to surrender (Means and Ends, 5), but Truman did not believe something like that would happen, as he later said that “Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic(Emphasis added), we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old Capital or the new. “ (Making, 8). What importance did Truman gave to be the leader of the word can clearly be seen in this quotation with the words “we, as the leader of the world” as a nationalistic reason of the A-bomb strikes. In addition, an important person, General Hap Arnold, head of the army air force, believed Japan could be brought to surrender without the bomb. The fact that important military leaders saw no need for the bomb lends weight to the idea that the reasons for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki were political (Means and Ends, 21). In spite of these thoughts, ulterior reasons and the hope of peace won the struggle to the decision. Mainly of these reasons behind the Hiroshima caused these oppositions between the upper part people, as a politician mainly thought of the political reasons, or a scientist mainly thought of scientific reasons. These conflicts and the facts stated above clearly show the ulterior reasons behind the Hiroshima.
Essay Example 3: Argument on the use of the Atomic Bombs
The decision of the USA to use what was, up to that point, the most destructive weapon in human history, upon the undefended Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a pivotal event of the last century. This action has engendered considerable debate between historians, especially since the release of Truman’s private papers and the Strategic Bombing Surveys carried out after the war. Initially the protagonists in this debate adopted tow brad perspectives. The first perspective, whose proponents include Robert J. Maddox and Herbert Feis, was that the bomb was dropped purely for strategic reasons in order to bring the war to a speedy conclusion with a minimum of allied casualties. The second thesis, whose most notable proponent is Gar Alperovitz, was that the bomb was dropped primarily to satisfy post war political needs. Alperovitz argued in his book ‘Atomic Diplomacy’ that it was unnecessary to use the atomic bombs because the United States knew that Japan was close to surrender. He further contends that the United States used the atomic bomb as a diplomatic tool to drive negotiations with the Soviets at the Potsdam Conference.
However, as with most historical debates that engender such diverse perspectives a third approach, associated with writers such as Sigal, has emerged which places greater emphasis on the relative inexperience of the president and his administration rather than any coherent master plan.
This study will examine the merits of all these studies and go on to suggest that a more plausible middle ground can be found which take aspects of all three perspectives and present what is, hopefully, a coherent synthesis which suggest that a combination of factors combined to place pressure on the new president, who had very little experience of foreign affairs, to authorize use of atomic weapons.
Despite the convincing arguments put forward by Alperovitz and Feis, the two main protagonists it can be suggested that flaws exist in both of their arguments and that a middle way is more likely to present a more accurate explanation for the dropping of the bombs. It is widely established that Truman, influenced by Stimson, was misguided in the use of the bomb. However, the fact that no moral guidance existed to challenge its use also attributed to the final decision. These factors together with the knowledge that there was going to be an eventual altercation between the two superpowers, Truman’s decision was hardly a difficult one, he faced the choice of setting the USA up in a position of power for the cold war, in the meanwhile winning the war in the pacific with little casualties. Truman, inaugurated in the tail end of the war was not simply ending the current war but placing the United States in a powerful political position for the next one.
The US decision, grimly momentous though it was, appeared inescapably logical for Truman, as it surmounted to the fact that dropping the atomic bomb would have been less bloody than an American invasion of the Japanese mainland. Feis1 agreed that American policy makers were convinced that dropping the atomic bomb would save ‘probably tens of thousands of lives’. Truman, Stimson and others argued that the invasion of Japan would total more than half a million American deaths. However, James Conant could have been responsible for this figure. One of the leading researchers at the Manhattan Project2, Conant3 persuaded Stimson to publish an article arguing why the US dropped the atomic bomb and consequently this was published in Harper’s in 1947. Stimson’s article in Harper’s suggested that the atomic attacks had prevented 1 million American casualties, a number that seemed to form future estimates and shape other peoples opinion on the figure saved by the bomb.
Whether what Hershberg suggested is what Churchill based his personal predictions of deaths on in his memoirs of the war is worrying as it could have meant that if he possessed accurate figures he might not have been so persuasive in the use of the atomic bomb. Churchill wrote that to use the bomb would be to “avert a vast indefinite butchery” and that to use it would be to “bring peace to the world” and to lay “healing hands” upon the world at the cost of “a few explosions”. Churchill had a history of making such rash decisions, his ordering of the complete destruction of Dresden or his appeasement of Hitler in the early 1930s gives us rise to believe that Churchill did not contemplate that although averting an allied ‘indefinite butchery’ they instead instigated an ‘indefinite butchery’ of Japanese civilians. His support of such an idea may have been rash, and perhaps was just a simple effort to enhance Britain’s standing, in such conferences as Potsdam, as Britain was beginning to be dwarfed by the growing powers of Russia and the US and to win concessions from the US would be advantageous.
Military planners never even predicted anywhere close to the numbers which Truman or Stimson cited: they saw the average to be no less than 20,000 lives lost and that the worst-case scenario would not exceed 46,000 deaths. However, they acted with hindsight after the war, some researchers many years after. This, therefore, is not as reliable as it seems and must be viewed with less than full confidence, and Conant’s views seen with less skepticism as he was considered to be an ‘expert’ in the atomic field.
In Truman’s private papers, specifically a letter written to his wife, Bess Wallace, he told her that he wished the war would end a year earlier and even that he thought of “all the kids who won’t be killed”, this suggests (albeit to his wife) that his actions were purely out of compassion to save lives. This naīve expression suggests that either Truman was not entirely informed about the bomb or he was blind to the fact that despite the saving of many ‘kids’ it created the annihilation hundreds of thousands perhaps million of Japanese ‘kids’. However, it could propose that even with the Russians entering the war then the conflict could not extend another year without the bomb. The numbers predicted by Stimson were grossly inflated and although Sherwin and Feis agreed that Stimson and Truman had over estimated the numbers of casualties, this was certainly not grounds to deploy such a horrendous weapon without notice.
However, it was Bernstein that was the most accurate, as a much more plausible explanation for the real reasons, not the public reasons which Stimson would have the American people believe, his argument accepted the military argument as a mask for the long term intentions of gaining special diplomatic considerations from Moscow; as dropping such a bomb would create dramatic policy changes to the Russian policy of dealing with the US, less on a peer level and with a more respectful nature. He emphasized that US policy makers saw no reason to avoid dropping the bomb, they used it primarily to end the war and save American lives, and he believed that gaining diplomatic concessions from the Soviets was but a bonus. However, this is still not as clear-cut as he would have us believe. It was, in fact, the other way around, the faceless operations of the policy makers wished to secure America’s future as a superpower and if dropping the bomb made this so then that could, and should, be done; as Bernstein said when he described that the bomb was used to end the war “as quickly as possible”4. The prevention of the loss of tens of thousands of American lives, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war who would be executed if an invasion occurred in their minds justified this. US victory was secured either way as the invasion from the Far East by the Russians would secure the conquest of Japan anyway. This meant that the only way to secure a foothold for world supremacy post-war would be to deploy ‘Little Boy5’.
Bernstein also emphasized the point that the influence and momentum of Roosevelt's atomic legacy (the Manhattan project) effectively narrowed Truman's choices, and it was not public opinion, which governed his decision. Truman, like his predecessor, assumed that the bomb was a legitimate weapon of war, However, Truman, unlike Roosevelt was swayed by other influences such as Stimson and as he was neither as strong a character as FDR or as experienced in foreign affairs, was more open to suggestions form those he perceived as experts.
There were other historians (specifically Thomas Hammond) who found it hard to believe that the US failed to take full advantage of its atomic monopoly in 1945 and that Stimson was completely justified in his predictions and that the US was sound in its decision to drop the bomb. Truman made this decision, but he had a self-delusion that the bomb was to be used for purely military targets such as the numerous munitions factories surrounding the Hiroshima area. He harbored a heavy burden of guilt for the mass slaughter of civilians and took full responsibility for the dropping of the bomb. However, this raises the suggestion that Truman never fully understood the act of dropping such a monumental weapon, a suggestion that is backed up by his memoirs6. It was in 1946 that Ralph Bard; Undersecretary of the Navy ina memorandum written June 27, 1945 said: "I don't see that we have anything in particular to lose in following such a program." He concluded the memorandum by noting, "The only way to find out is to try it out." 7
However, recent research (his private papers, for instance) leads us to believe that President Truman never categorically faced a choice between invasion of mainland Japan and the bomb and that the issues surrounding the dropping of the bomb were far more complex than first thought. Many historians have suggested possible alternatives. Robert James Maddox, for example, maintained that the number of expected American casualties from a planned invasion of Japan fully justified the use of the atomic weapons. Another was Herbert Feis, who declared that, without equivocation the bomb was not needed to force Japan’s surrender. Other suggested alternatives were rather vague; they included, but were not limited to, investigating the seriousness of Japan’s peace initiatives, moderating the demand on unconditional surrender or waiting for the Russians to declare war on Japan. There were and still are both strengths and weaknesses to each of these suggestions. The main limitations being that most of the suggestions come after the war with intelligence that was not known during it and that the alternatives were made with the reliance on the knowledge it would never be a historian’s choice that could end up with catastrophic loss of life. For example, the intelligence in place, such as the relatively primitive radar, mathematical computations and simulations were simply not feasible by the period’s technology. It is with hindsight with which historians can speculate on the effectiveness of other methods, and we must take into account that the United States had far less (although in existence) capable intelligence methods or technology.
By 1944 American officials had long been able to read Japanese diplomatic traffic through a process known as the’ Magic’ intercepts which was the US codename for intelligence derived from the cryptanalysis of Purple, a Japanese foreign office cipher8. Army intelligence prepared a report for General Marshall on a report from Japanese Foreign minister Togo to the Japanese Ambassador Sato in Moscow; this message contained suggestions that Togo wished to send a personal envoy, Prince Konoye in an attempt to “restore peace with all possible speed”. As it was only an intelligence intercept and which only contained a suggestion it could not have been very reliable, if it was the intercept would have been a perfect time to act on these ‘peace feelers’, and to avoid any concessions going to the Russians rather than the US. Obviously if the United States could afford to ignore these feelers then it was intelligence not worth taking with as much commitment as first proposed.
The report listed several possible constructions, that the most probable being that the Japanese were making a coordinated effort to “stave off defeat” through Soviet intervention and an “appeal to war weariness to the United States”. The communication seemed to show that the Japanese Foreign Office was trying to secure a deal with the Russians that would permit Japan to retain her current political system and her pre-war possessions within the Pacific. This was a settlement that even the most lenient American official would not have countenanced, this was confirmed when, Togo, on 17th July informed Sato: “We are not asking the Russians’ meditation in anything like unconditional surrender”. During the following weeks Sato pleaded with his superiors to abandon hope of a Soviet intercession and to approach the United States directly to find out what peace terms would be offered.9
These ‘Peace Feelers’ from Japanese ambassadors seemed no more promising from the American point of view, as although several of the consular personnel and military attachés engaged in these activities, none produced verification of any direct application for peace. Had the Japanese government sought assurance and backing for peace proposals from the emperor and granted one of the ambassador’s authority to start in negotiations then the American intelligence sources would have been able to decipher whether it was just simply well meaning individuals or orchestrated attempts at peace from the government at Tokyo. Its failure to do this lead to the characterization of the ‘peace feelers’ as ‘familiar weapons of psychological warfare’ designed to ‘divide the allies’10. Peculiarly Grew himself was, for ten years ambassador to Japan, and has been hailed, by the president of the ICU of Japan as someone who “worked tirelessly to prevent war between America and Japan.”11 This historical confliction means that it is difficult to accept these [Grew’s] comments with as much conviction as at first glance.
Unconditional surrender was primarily a battle cry meaning to concentrate the attention of public opinion upon the winning of the war. As a coherent statement of political objectives, it had two competing definitions: definition number one, used in State Department memoranda and within the Army's general staff, meant that the victor laid down all conditions and for the vanquished, those conditions were unconditional. In definition number two, Japanese surrender was "not subject to conditions or limitations." In this case, the victor had absolute freedom over the vanquished because, as generals and diplomats put it, the enemy "is actually signing a 'blank check'"; there are "no contractual elements whatever." This was the definition to which the Japanese baulked to, as they had no way of securing the safety of their emperor, who, to the Japanese, was revered as a God and thus Unconditional Surrender was generally perceived as a lost cause. In his memoirs Churchill describes the publication of the official unconditional surrender document on July 26th, which were followed by warnings of ‘intense bombings’ which were dropped on 12 cities on July 31st. Superfortress command stated that by then over one and a half million leaflets were dropped with three million copies of the ultimatum.
An article published in the bulletin for atomic scientists by Robert Messer pointed out that in light of the release of private diaries of Truman new facts had come to light, that he [Truman] had conversed with Stalin on the planned soviet entry in the Far East war and that the Premier had replied it to be in the 15th of august 1945. This was indisputable proof that the atomic bomb was not dropped for military considerations as it was widely regarded as solid fact that entry by the Russians would have clinched the war within a few weeks, months at the most and that no the primary reason for using the bomb must have been political. However, Messer also suggested that other statements by Truman seemed that he didn’t want the Russians in the war at all, because of suspicions that if Russia entered through Manchuria that they would hold Manchuria indefinitely. But again, confusingly an extract from Truman's diary reads:
“Believe Japs will fold before Russia comes in. I am sure they will when Russia appears over their homeland”
This brings us to understand that even Truman himself reckoned that the Japanese would fold if the Russians entered from the East. This belief, expressed as it was in his private diary, would be likely to be the view he actually held, more than any he might have uttered for public consumption as such offers a reliable insight into the realities of US policy decisions. Equally, however, this may provide an insight into Truman’s thinking at one brief moment and does not prove that other factors may have later come into play which altered this belief. Presumably then the reason that the bomb was dropped could have been that Truman did not want the Russians to enter the war, which is proof of a pre-cold war anti-Marxist feeling at the highest levels in the administration. Such a belief is supported by the work of Walker who argues that, “Soviet entry into the war [to the Truman Administration] was neither necessary nor desirable”. Truman’s administration’s lack of comprehension or belief in the Marxist values meant that to use underhand unmoral political scare tactics such as dropping the bomb to intimidate Moscow was akin to the lack of morals for the effects of radiation12, although widely known before the deployment of the bomb and even the test of ‘Little Boy’.
Kai Erikson13 investigated the question of why the US didn’t fire a warning shot on a ‘relatively’ uninhabited Japanese target, as the risks were minimal and if it didn’t succeed in frightening the Japanese, then bombs could still be used on other city targets. He attributed the aversion from releasing a warning shot to make an example to the Russians, which is inaccurate, as writing at the time of Reagan, the height of the ‘second cold war’, anti- communist feeling was as high as any time since 1945, might have meant that Erikson was influenced to make it seem like the Russians should have examples made to them. His argument, although possibly flawed, as surely a warning shot would have the same sobering effect on the Russians as the Japanese, raises a fair point; why was there no warning shot fired when there clearly was time and resources to do such a thing?
To this, Bernstein also added another option: to continue the naval blockade until the Americans could starve the Japanese to a level which would surpass that of the German’s attempt on Britain, or continued intensive conventional bombing. However, as the Japanese jingoism meant that any of the alternatives taken alone would not have prompted the Japanese to surrender.
Gar Alperovitz suggested that, instead of the bomb being dropped for military reasons that Truman adopted a “Strategy of Delayed showdown” to postpone the Potsdam meeting until the bomb was tested, if it proved successful it could only strengthen the USA’s diplomatic position against the soviet policies in Eastern Europe and also end the war against Japan before the Soviets invaded and gained control (for what would be an indefinite period of time) of Manchuria. Alperovitz described the release of his book ‘Atomic Diplomacy’ (1965) in part of the growing uneasiness about the foreign policy in Viet Nam, and agreed with Feis insofar as to say that the bomb was not needed for solely Military purposes. He raised the idea that Truman saw the Bomb as the diplomatic lever between Democracy and Communism, which coincided with his post installation as president actions of completely reversing FDR’s efforts to cooperate with the Russians14.
Many of Alperovitz’s arguments were still regarded by the historiographical world as ‘unfounded’ and ‘inaccurate’ until Gregg Herken concurred with him by saying that the bomb was meant to serve both military and diplomatic purposes and stressed how Truman and Secretary of War Stimson carefully weighed the political implications. Herken’s main contention was that nuclear weapons failed as successful bargaining tools in diplomacy. He argued that America’s nuclear hypocrisy led to the failure of international controls, which in turn led to an intensification of the arms race. Hershberg concurred with Herken by saying that: “His [Stimson’s] marshalling of support for the decision to use the bomb… a yearning to believe that Hiroshima’s destruction was necessary to win both war and peace”. Hershberg however was writing at a time of international uncertainty over America’s foreign policy, post Gulf war America was becoming more and more feared within on the world stage and Hershberg could thus write and be accepted far easier than Herken could; writing just after Carter, whose actions on the world stage were failed numerously.
The bomb thus fell more because of the bureaucratic imperatives than because of carefully considered questions of national interest 15. Weighing alternatives to bombing Japanese cities or seeking other viable ways of instigating surrender or seeking Japanese peace advocates never received attentive review by the president or his advisors. Sigal thus explains a myriad of unanswered questions, mainly why the US didn’t pursue alternatives to the bomb and why Truman always seemed confused when asked or interrogated over the bomb. Sigal, however, failed to show why the other policy makers and Truman failed to gain more control over such a large portion of the foreign policy.
It is clear to see that most of the sources agree that the use of atomic weapons was not necessary to end the war in the pacific, and also that Truman and his advisors knew of the alternatives to dropping the weapon. Even Bernstein believed that the Truman administration knew that the bomb was a political as well as military necessity16, and also concluded that the bomb was not solely, if at all, responsible for the creation of the cold war and nuclear arms race. It is also almost certain and widely agreed that Stimson was the instigator of corrupt claims of saviourism and that Truman himself was confident that the Russian invasion would mean Japan would surrender in the near future. This leads us to ask the question, why would Truman agree to drop the bomb? It has been pointed out that since FDR US officials always assumed that once the bomb was available it would be dropped and the moral implications would be unheard of in the period of the 1940s. No bomb had, according to US intelligence, had been near to completion in Russia and thus America had the upper hand, which would lead officials, like Stimson to persuade Truman to drop the bomb to intimidate and uphold America’s passion for being the supremacy.