Analysis of Prompt and Utter Destruction
He contends that because of their lack of knowledge of the actual damage that the force of the explosion would cause, that American politicians including President Truman made a decision based on certain assumptions. Now to address the query, was the assault on Japan with atomic bombs necessary? Samuel J. Walker had always been intrigued by the history surrounding the decision to assail Japan with the use of the atomic bombs. He was so fascinated that he made it a personal assignment to conduct research on the issue in his own time.
Walker did not do so as part of his obligation as the historian for the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His research reveals that President Truman came into presidency without any absolute knowledge of what was occurring on the part of the United States in the war effort. In addition, the Manhattan Project (the title given to the engineering team that was developing the atomic bomb by Roosevelt) was almost a complete enigma to Truman when he entered his term as President (13). As President, Truman was concerned with ending the war as soon as possible in order to reduce the loss of American troops.
It is logical to conclude that any leader would be concerned with the sacrifice of life affecting their country; however, abiding by moral principles must also be considered. The bomb was considered by the American government to be the quickest and most effective way to end the war at the time, in addition to lowering the cost of American lives (36). The reason that the atomic bomb was considered to be very effective was because it had the capability to wipe out an entire city, including troops, men, women, and children.
Would an act of this capacity be considered as moral? Scholars dispute the morality of Truman’s decision, some arguing it was warranted by Japan’s aggression and refusal to surrender, and other scholars suggesting that the assaults were the moral equivalent of the Nazi holocaust (109). I postulate that to annihilate an entire city of people in one fell swoop is something that neither man nor nation should be able to decide, even if they conceive the other party to be deserving of such a punishment in retribution for their actions.
In addition to the desire to end the war and thus the casualties to the American troops, Truman had other reasons for considering the approval of the atomic attacks. Truman was enlightened by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson in a meeting on April 25, 1945 on the capability of the bomb, and the enormous expense incurred in developing it. This was one reason that Truman’s conclusion was to use the bomb against Japan, as there had to be a justifiable explanation for the expense incurred.
Also, if he had not employed the use of the atomic bomb, he would not be able to justify to the American people why he had chosen not to do so, as there were so many American lives lost. It was alleged after the atomic assaults on Japan the decision to carry out the attacks was made in order to prevent as many as 500,000 to 1 million American casualties or deaths. However, there has been no proof provided that Truman received any information that an invasion on Japan would cause that number of casualties (39).
Learning that the presentation of the number of estimated casualties was skewed to ensure a favourable opinion from the majority of the American public solidifies my opinion that the atomic assaults were unnecessary. If they had been necessary, why not be forthcoming about the lesser estimation of casualties? Yet another reason that Truman and his cabinet decided to attack is that American relations with the Soviet Union during that time were becoming strained. It was important to the American government to strengthening the United States’ ties to the Soviet Union.
The desire for amicable relations with the Soviet Union was a factor in the conclusion to use the bombs against Japan (95). At the time, the Soviet Union was preparing to declare war against Japan, and joining them or preceding them in the war would apparently strengthen the relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States. The opinion was that the United States was a stronger power and that the Soviet Union would not be able to defeat Japan without U. S. intervention (41).
However, with the Soviet Union and the United States working together, Japan would most likely be defeated in a short amount of time, making the atomic assaults on Japan even more unnecessary. Regardless of the option to partner with the Soviet Union, the United States decided to act alone in their attacks. Finally, the most pressing reason that the government and Truman argued that they had to use the bombs was the sentiment of outrage that the American public harboured over the attack on Pearl Harbour and their resulting fury if something had not been done in retaliation to that horrific event (20).
In all honesty the American public would have been assuaged with a victory no matter the means by which it was achieved. The American government was fully aware of the fact that there would be civilian casualties, in addition to the soldiers and sailors of Japan (62). Preservation of the lives of the innocent is of the utmost importance. The American government had pronounced that there would be hundreds of thousands of American lives saved due to the bombings, but later statements by Truman stated the numbers to be in the “thousands”, which coincided with actual estimates from the military in the summer of 1945 (93).
Truman and the government opted to save thousands of American soldier’s lives, and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese men, women and children. In addition to all of the reasons the American government had for dropping the bombs on Japan, they came to the conclusion that there were not any viable reasons presented against doing the atomic assaults which outweighed the reasons in favour of dropping them. However, there were other options for the American government to proceed with in order to secure a victory.
There was a planned invasion on Kyushu as well as continued aerial bombings and blockades (36). It is understandable that the American government would want to appease the American public, secure relations with the Soviet Union, justify the expense of developing the bomb, and reduce the cost of American lives, however; the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrendous and morally detestable. The sheer volume of innocent lives lost due to the bombs, as well as the agony caused by the radioactive material, was most assuredly not justified.
There would have definitely been many more American troops lost if the bombs were not dropped, but I do not agree that it justifies killing innocent men, women, and children on such a large scale. I particularly enjoyed the way that Walker states it -“The fundamental question that has triggered debate about Truman’s decision since shortly after the end of World War II is, Was the bomb necessary? In view of the evidence now available, the answer is yes . . . and no.
Yes, the bomb was necessary to end the war at the earliest possible moment. And yes, the bomb was necessary to save the lives of American troops, perhaps numbering in the several thousands. But no, the bomb was probably not necessary to end the war within a fairly short time without an invasion of Japan. And no, the bomb was not necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of American troops” (97). Bibliography Walker, Samuel J. Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the use of atomic bombs against Japan. 1997. eBook.