In 1945, on Augustsixth and ninth two massive nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima, andNagasaki. The use of this nuclear bomb was the first the world had ever seen.The bomb killed one hundred and thirty thousand people, most of which werenoncombatants. The United States were the ones responsible for dropping thebomb. The United States was in the right for dropping the bomb. The US was inthe right because the bomb was the ending point of the war, and in the long runmore lives were saved. The use of the atomic bomb also stopped a potential nucleararms race around the world. The last reason the US was right to drop the bombwas there was no alternative to ending the war quickly on reasonable terms.
The first part ofthis paper will provide some basic knowledge and ideas of the bombing onHiroshima and Nagasaki. The next part of this paper will provide an argument onhow the US rightly dropped the bombs. Finally, this paper will provide acounter argument as to why the US was excessive and wrong with dropping thenuclear bombs.On August sixth,and on August ninth, 1945, the United States shocked the world by dropping anuclear bomb on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. The US dropped the bombs with consentof the United Kingdom which was outlined in the Quebec Agreement. The Twobombings killed at least 130,000 people (most of which were civilians). Thisinstance is the first and last time a nuclear weapon was used in warfare.
1 In the Final yearof the war, the Allies prepared for what was anticipated to be a very costlyinvasion on the Japanese mainland. This event was preceded by a US firebombingcampaign that destroyed sixty-seven Japanese cities. The war in Europe hadended when Germany signed a treaty for surrender. The Japanese were facing asimilar fate but refused to accept the Allies demand for unconditionalsurrender, so the war continued. The Allies called for an unconditionalsurrender, but the Japanese ignored the call. The other option which the UScalled for was prompt and utter destruction, which was ignored also.
2By August1945, the Allies Manhattan Project had produced two atomic bombs. The Alliesalso developed a special type of B-29 bomber plane. President Truman orderedfour cities in Japan to be Bombed. Finally, on August sixth, 1945 “Little Boy” wasdropped on Hiroshima. Three days later “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki.
3 Itis important to note that the two bombs were made from Plutonium, and Uranium.Little Boy killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima, and Fat Man killed around80,000 people in Nagasaki.4The reason why these two bombs facedcriticism was the effect in which they had on people. Not only did the bombkills more noncombatants than combatants, but the nuclear aspect of the bombsleft people sick with radiation sickness, and desecrated the land for years.Japan Announced their surrender to theAllies on August fifteenth, six days after the bombing of Nagasaki. OnSeptember second, The Japanese government signed the instrument of surrenderwhich ended World War II.
The Justificationfor the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still in debate to this day. SC1 The United States hadevery right to drop the two nuclear bombs on Japan for three reasons. The firstreason why the bombing was justified was the stance of the Allies. World War IIwas a dark period of time for human history.
The war had the single most costconflict in terms of human life. The USchose a stance that would limit the amount of future causalities of the war.The atomic weapons were used to drastically shorten the war, which in the longrun saved lives. This was a very reasonable view for the United States, becausethey had already suffered the loss of 400,000 military and civilian lives tothe war.
In other words, the trade-off of 135,000 lives lost to the atomicbombs versus the 400,000 Allied lives lost throughout the war. The US was alsoplanning an invasion of Japan if the bombs were not used. This invasion wouldhave killed many more allied and enemy soldiers.
5 The Atomic bombsachieved their desired effects by causing maximum devastation. Just six daysafter the Nagasaki bombing, the Japanese Emperor surrendered the war. If theBomb did not cause complete devastation, the bombing would have been pointless.The US was able to replace multiple bombing runs, which saved lives andresources. President Truman made the decision to drop the bombs also because ofthe death rate from starvation for Allied Prisoners of war and civilians whichwould have dragged on well into 1946.A good comparisonto make would be the bombing that the Japanese conducted on Pearl Harbor.
TheJapanese gave no warning which goes against the ethics of war. Because Japangave no warning of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the killing of noncombatants,they violated peace, and war ethics, which leads me to the next point of eyefor an eye. Japan struck the US first in Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor attackkilled many civilians and harmed residential life.
The bombing of Hiroshima andNagasaki killed tens of thousands Japanese soldiers. Plus, the two citieshoused military, and industrial instillations used for military purpose. So,even the “innocent civilians” were working for these military factories whichwere producing weapons. The US wastargeting the production of war supplies and the people involved, not innocentcivilians.6In conclusion ofthe first point, the US dropped the bomb to save more lives in the long run byending the war quickly via use of the atom bombs. Second, they were nottargeting innocent civilians on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, rather they weretargeting the source of war product manufacturing.
This is compared to thenegligent bombing on Pearl Harbor where the basic ethics of war were notfollowed by Japan. The United States had the right to end the war in a quickfashion, if that meant future peace. The Next argumentin favor of dropping the atom bombs is the shared decision that was made by aworld committee. President Truman decision to use atomic weapons was not just apersonal decision, but rather was a committee’s decision. The InterimCommittee, created May1945, wasprimarily tasked with providing advice to Truman on all matters pertaining tonuclear energy.
The Committee was made up top political, military andscientific advisors.The Committee first recommendation to Truman was, “the Committee agreed, thatthe Secretary of War should be advised that, while recognizing that the finalselection of the target was essentially a military decision, the present viewof the Committee was that the bomb should be used against Japan as soon aspossible; that it be used on a war plant surrounded by workers’ homes; and thatit be used without prior warning.” SC2 Thisrecommendation was given to Truman on June First. On June twenty-first, thecommittee reaffirmed their recommendation by stating, “that theweapon be used against Japan at the earliest opportunity, that it be usedwithout warning, and that it be used on a dual target, namely, a militaryinstallation or war plant surrounded by or adjacent to homes or other buildingsmost susceptible to damageSC3 .” The initial plan of using the bomb without priorwarning was overturned.
7 SC4 The quotes listed above are used to prove that Trumandid not make an irrational decision to bomb Japan. Truman was well informed,and was given plenty of time to make revisions and decisions. The Final argument that justifies the atomic bombingof Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the ample warning the Japanese were given.
Onemonth prior to the bombings President Truman and the Allied forces issued anultimatum to Japan. This ultimatum is known as the Potsdam Declaration. ThePotsdam Declaration was Declared by Prime Minister Churchill and PresidentRoosevelt at the Casablanca Conference.
This declaration said that the Allieswould accept unconditional surrender from the Axis. The declaration laid outthe terms of surrender by the Axis.8 The Japanesegovernment ignored the Potsdam Declaration. If the Japanese accepted theagreement the war would have been over, and there would be no future violenceor bloodshed.
Because the Japanese government ignored the declaration, the bombwas dropped because the Allies saw no other way of ending the war efficiently. Additionally, Japanese civilianswere warned in advance through leaflets dropped on Japan cities by US planes. Manymillion leaflets were dropped on thirty-five different Japanese cities. TheJapanese people typically regarded the information on these leaflets to betruthful, however any Japanese person caught with these leaflets were arrestedby the government. The leaflets contained information about the PotsdamDeclaration, and other leaflets warned civilians of potential air raids by theAllies. Many Japanese lives could have been saved if the leaflets or any otherefforts by the Allies were taken seriously.9The Dilemma of this entiresituation is simply does the US drop the bomb after all of these warnings andpeaceful attempts to end the war. All of the point above point in the directionof yes, the bomb should be dropped.
The death total of Japanese people due tothe bomb would be nowhere near the total amount of deaths caused by the war.The bomb would save more lives in the future, and end a very dark time inhistory. The Japanese government and civilians were given plenty ofopportunities to surrender peacefully or evacuate. All attempts by the Alliedpowers were ignored so, the Japanese people left the US with no choice, but todrop the bombs.
Six days after the bombs were dropped, the Japanese Emperorsurrendered, and the war was over. The counterargument to everything listed above is, the US should not have dropped theatomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same arguments used in thejustification for the bombing will also be used for the argument against thebombing.The first aspectthat requires examining is, the actual amount of lives the bomb potentiallysaved in the future. The issue with saving lives in the long run is there is noguarantee. If the bomb was never dropped, it is virtually impossible to tellhow long the war would continue going or how many violent battles would ensue.
So, arguably the bomb did not save more lives than it killed.The bomb couldalso be considered illegal. On September 29, 1938, The League of Nations issueda law against the bombing of civilian populations. The use of chemical weaponswas also outlawed. However, the US was not a member of the League of Nation atthis time so technically they did not have to follow the new laws put in place,and also the League of Nations had been disbanded by 1945. The principle of thelaws should have been kept in place, especially because the US prides itself onbeing a model of human rights.10 Thenext argument against the use of the bomb is the lack of care from PresidentTruman.
Truman faced criticism over not keeping enough personal control overthis new weapon. In fact, the US military seemed to hold the most control overthe use of the bomb. The committee in charge of the bomb wanted to drop itwithout any warning, which goes against ethical principle of warfare. Somecritics even argue that President Truman did not really even understand thebomb or its capabilities. If the President, committee, military and scientistsare not all on the same page, there is a chance for miss use of the bomb. The next argumentweighs out the cost/benefit the bomb had on the Japanese people.
The Atomicbombs were inhumane. The bombs killed people on impact, and if they did not dieimmediately the people would live a miserable life. The radiation caused terrible effects on thepeople of these two cities. The bomb also had mental and moral effects due toall of the destruction and death. The two cities were completely destroyed, andthe environment is permanently ruined. The United States wanted to end the war quickly,and in their opinion dropping this bomb would help the Japanese people in thelong run.
However, this bomb had no benefit to the Japanese people. Lastly, theargument which says the Japanese people had a sufficient warning. The Japanesepeople were being prosecuted if they were caught with the leaflets. TheJapanese government tried to hide what the leaflets and other propaganda wassaying about potential threats.
Also, the warnings by the US did not mentionthey had a nuclear weapon. The US government was not super specific about whereand when the attacks may occur. Basically, The Japanese people wereill-prepared for the bombings.11The US governmentdropped two of the most devastating bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. TheJapanese people were ill-prepared, and had an abundance of casualties (mostbeing civilians), and the radiation from the bombs caused future pain andsuffering as well. There is always another way to going about ending a war.
TheAllied powers did not explore all options and intern they cause great pain bydropping an illegal nuclear bomb. The initialargument for the bombing seems to be more reasonable. The government officialsinvolved looked at both arguments.
Other alternatives were explored and broughtto fruition such as the Potsdam Declaration. Looking at the numbers, it is asafe bet to believe more lives were saved in the long run. The Japanese peopleand government were given reasonable warnings, which they chose to ignore. Atthe end of the day the Allied forces were looking out for the greaterwell-being of the world, and through careful planning they chose to use thenuclear weapons. The bomb would not necessarily be considered illegal, and someethical standards of war were taken into consideration.
The topic regardingthe use of nuclear weapons is immensely important, especially in today’s dayand age. Over the last fifty years there has been a race more nuclear poweramongst nations. It is important to control the use of these weapons, and makesure if they must be used, they are used reasonably.
Technology keeps gettingbetter and better. Today, there are many different nations with the resourcesand capabilities for nuclear weapons. We must learn from successes andpotential failures from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, because that isthe only instance we have of nuclear weapons being put to use. It is importantto look the use of nuclear weapons from an ethical standpoint, in order todetermine if the weapons are reasonable. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasakiwas a conducted justly by the Allied Powers, however the use also broughtunspeakable amounts of destruction and death.
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