The sole motivating factor behind the American initiative to construct a weapon of mass destruction was the fear that Hitler might utilize German nuclear expertise to build an atomic bomb. (Sherwin 34) If he managed to do so the Germans would have used it to wipe out the Soviet Union and Britain, and would eventually pose a threat to the United States itself. It was a known fact that Japan, was much weaker scientifically and did not receive any conceivable nuclear danger. By this time in late 1944 the Manhattan project was close to producing an atomic bomb prototype. That year the United States had experienced a series of unexpected victories and it was seemingly likely that Germany would be defeated before the atomic bomb was ready. In fact, the Nazi Germany collapsed two months before the testing of the first atomic bomb prototype. For this only reason, a few government officials and atomic scientists questioned the wisdom of continuing the Manhattan project, and further questioned the need to use to crush the remaining Axis power, Japan. A group of scientists after the German surrender even quit the project altogether and many more were signatories of petitions to the president that the bomb should never be used.
Only two possible strategic uses were possible regarding the use of the atomic bomb: hastening the defeat of Japan and by demonstrating America’s willingness to use the bomb to deter Stalin from taking advantage of the growing power gained from the success of the Red Army to control post Nazi Europe. Both versions have strong supportive evidence but this debate is not just a mere academic debate. It has become politicized between two historical narrations. This was illustrated in 1995 when the B-29 bomber was exhibited in Washington, where several senior officials protested its exhibition.
The “official version” backed by most soldiers, politicians, and the American public insisted that the main issue was obtaining Japanese surrender without further loss of American military forces. The battle of Okinawa had just been won but there were exceptionally high casualties sustained in that operation. This led the American military leaders including President Truman himself to seek any feasible way to put the war to an end without invading the Japanese home islands.
At the end of the Second World War, just but a few people questioned Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Many Americans accepted the decision with obvious reasoning: that the atomic bombings had brought the war to a rather timely ending. The Americans seemed not to have a problem with the death of a hundred thousand plus Japanese. After all, as they reasoned, the Japanese attacked the Americans. (Hasegawa 134) In recent years, nevertheless, many questioned the straight conformist wisdom of President Truman’s decision and the claim that he was saving lives. On the other hand, examining this subject with immense attention to the outcome of the two atomic bombings and comparing and contrasting these results with probable alternatives to putting the said atomic bombs, the blurred line between fiction and truth starts to clear.
As claimed by Truman and his advisors, the dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was for the reason of saving American lives and putting an end to the war hastily so as to prevent a catastrophic land incursion. Those who now question Truman's decision and motives are known as Revisionists, because they make attempts to revise widespread discernment of the history about this issue, proposing alternative speculations and purposes that the American administration had. By early 1946 they began to hypothesize new suggestions, but they only began receiving credence in the early 1970s. Revisionists challenge that President Truman and his administration were of ulterior intentions in dropping the two atomic bombs or maybe they used these bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for a completely dissimilar reason. A reason that did not have anything to do with the saving of American lives.
Most of the people who were living at that instance of the Japan bombings, especially ex-soldiers, furnish to the "customary" conviction that President’s Truman decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for exclusively military grounds. (Alperowitz 144) A well-timed end to the ferocious war meant that land invasion of Japan was completely unnecessary. If such an invasion took part it would have been extremely expensive in terms of American lives. Ending the war swiftly get back soldiers home allowing Americans to live a life of normality again.
However, the Revisionists were of the belief that President Truman for either partially or entirely different motives signed off the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. They believed that For Truman’s administration the complete destruction of the two Japanese cities would achieve several things; obviously punishing the Japanese for bombing Pearl Harbor and the atrocities committed on American prisoners of war. Also, serving as a justification of the expense of the Manhattan Project, since the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities was the only appropriate thing that would justify the spending of $2 billion. This also gave Truman a better chance at getting reelected for another term in office. Since the American public knew that he had not shelved an expensive that bomb that could have ended the war sooner.
The last Revisionist allege is that President Truman was trying to United States edge in the Cold War against the Russians by asserting for sure that he was not at all troubled to put to use the American weapons of mass destruction.
President Truman, in his autobiography Memoirs in 1955 made estimation, that the use of the atomic bomb in all probability saved half a million American lives, not mentioning the number of Japanese victims. Truman had more than enough reasons to be cautious in undertaking the invasion arrangement. The battles waged before in the war campaigns from 1944 to 1945 served as pragmatic proof that the Japanese were willing to go down fighting until the end. American leadership knew beyond reasonable doubt that an invasion of Japan would result in bloodshed but then they did not doubt the ferocity of Japanese revolt, since it was increasing as the war got closer to the homeland.
Viewing it from this perspective the atomic bombs use to force a hasty Japanese surrender seemed necessary and logical action. Most moral qualms expressed by civilians and scientists who heard of or seen the test were suppressed all out anger at the ever growing evidence about the brutal treatment of captured allied prisoners and Japanese carnage against civilians.
The United States of America was in possession of the bomb. Now what? The Manhattan project was a success, and President Harry Truman needed to make a verdict of unprecedented gravity. He had the capacity to end the Second World War, but it involved the unleashing of the most terrible weapon to man at the time. American civilians and soldiers altogether, had grown weary of the war, yet the Japanese military was up in arms refusing to give up the fight. Despite America’s occupation in the islands of Okinawa and Iwo Jima and the intense bombing of Japanese cities, Japan had an army of 2 million strong in their home islands guarding against invasion and occupation. As much as there were codes of conduct at times of war even before World War two which involved a model of war which spared civilian lives as much as possible, there was a radical change in the mode of warfare. This change to air war strategy led into a new approach of mass bombings. This change in strategy formed a certain military belief that the atomic bombs’ use was a justified effort to win the war even if it meant having innocent civilians as targets. (Alperowitz 93)
In the spring of 1945 it was evident that the mounting pressure on Japan had led to the deteriorating of its ability to defend itself against heavy bombardment. Then acting secretary of state Joseph Grew firmly believed that Japanese were nearly beaten by the end of May in 1945 that they would be open to a negotiated peace. He also believed that they would in most likelihood surrender if the unconditional surrender stipulation President Truman had inherited from Roosevelt were tailored to give a few allowances to the Japanese. Truman’s reluctance to amend the more than popular expectation of unconditional surrender remained an inhibiting factor in end the war through amicable and diplomatic channels.
For Truman, the decision whether or not to use the atomic bomb was the most difficult decision he had to make in his life. At first, an Allied demand for an immediate surrender was made to Japan. The demand only stated that refusal to surrender would result in total destruction; it did not mention any new weapon of mass destruction had been made. Japanese military forces command rejected this request for unconditional surrender, but they showed indications of the possibility of a conditional surrender. Regardless of this, on August 6, 1945, a plane by the name Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. 70,000 Japanese citizens perished instantly, and an additional 100,000 died from radiation ailments and burns. August 9, 1945, a cloud rose over the city of Nagasaki. “Fat Man” had been detonated again. The second atomic bludgeon used against Japan, this second bomb resulted in 80,000 deaths of Japanese citizens. This resulted to a rapid Japanese surrender, an apparent justification that the bombs were used absolute anger. (Hasegawa 189) The conservative justification for the decision to undertake atomic bombings on Japan is that it was the most effective measure to securing Japan’s surrender. Prominent men like Truman cast the framework for what has become to be known as the orthodox interpretation by making the assertion that the bombs were used to shorten the anguish of war and to save the lives of Americans. Late in the war, the American leadership recognized that Japan was on the verge of defeat but surrender was not forthcoming and so they looked upon the atomic bomb to make a crucial difference. In this way, while considering alternative plans, were found to be risky as compared to just dropping a bomb, which was unwarranted.
In view of antiwar protestants the use of atomic bombs on Japan to obtain surrender, was unnecessary. Historians unearthed documents showing that the majority of the Japanese authority was ready to surrender within a matter of few weeks at most. Only impeded by a small group of extremists, it was clear that the Japanese leadership was ready to surrender and this was even confirmed by British and American intercepts. The motive behind the use of the bomb was quite different: at first it was to cow Stalin and his generals from further ambitions of gaining territories in Europe and a weapon that would ensure ultimate victory in what seemed as an inevitable war with the soviet union.
Expecting such a war a commonplace on the political portfolio at the moment. As the Soviet communism was seen as a central threat to the development of western civilization which must be eliminated
Many historians’ views are bolstered by the resolution to wipe out both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the object of the United states was solely Unconditional Japanese surrender then the use of one bomb or even an open demonstration to the Japanese leadership as some scientists had proposed would have been enough. The only possible explanation for this double annihilation was to ensure that both bombs, the plutonium element based bomb used on Nagasaki, and the uranium based design used on Hiroshima, would function under warfare conditions. (Hasegawa 214) Also the Soviets would get an objective lesson in the effectiveness of the United States in combat.
Americans clearly had the choice of escalating conventional warfare, altering the surrender requisites to allow for the continuance of the Japanese imperial institution, or providing an unambiguous warning. The emphasis here is evidently positioned on the preference that the American leaders in had in making a decision. The main case advanced by revisionists is that American policymakers, knew that Japan was on the verge of giving in, in the summer of 1945, yet rushed to use the atomic bomb because they were of the thought that the Soviet Union’s entry into the war might produce a quick surrender and therefore not let the U.S. to put to use the bomb in combat. Honestly, American leaders had other measures to follow in ending the battle.
President Harry Truman said that the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was purely out of military reasons. Truman was of the belief that the bombings also saved lives as well, since prolonging the war was not an option to him. American lives had already been lost to over 3500 Japanese kamikaze raids. Truman rejected a demonstration of the bomb’s capability to Japanese leaders. On the basis that he had no assurance or guarantee that the Japanese would surrender after a successful test. He also felt that a failed demonstration would be worse than not even having one. The president and the scientific community failed to see the devastating effects of radiation caused sicknesses. To Truman there was no big difference between the firebombing in Dresden and dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Critics charged Truman's decision as a barbaric act which brought negative long-term costs to the United States. A new era of nuclear horror was conceived leading to a treacherous arms race. (Bernstein 234) Other analysts were insistent that Japan was already on its knees and that the bombings were purely unnecessary. Some even went as far as accusing the American government of racism and stated that such a weapon would have never been used on white civilians. Others even argued that American leaders had ulterior motives. The Soviet Union entered the Second World War against Japan, and the atomic bomb was to be read as a strong note for the Russians to tread carefully. In this respect the bombings on Nagasaki and Hiroshima might have been the genesis of the Cold War as well as the end of World War two.
The thing most of essence, on President’s Truman’s mind when letting the bombs goes was that they would prevent an invasion of Japan and the substantial loss of lives, both Japanese and American, that would result from such an invasion. Even if President Truman chose to invade Japan instead of using atomic bombs on Japan, they would still have been put to use, just in a dissimilar faculty. The only way an individual can evaluate Harry Truman's motives in bombing Japan is by considering the outcome of his verdict. (Bernstein 214) No one can actually know, even by studying his private diary, the precise reasons he had when he decided to use the bomb on Japan. It was just a amalgamation of several factors: saving lives, justification of cost, punishment and ending the war as hurriedly as possible. An invasion of the Japan inland would probably have cost several million Japanese and American lives. In conclusion it can be said that fewer people perished in the atomic bombings than would have in an invasion of Japan, so the said bombings did truly have an effect ending the war more hastily. Truman's objectives, therefore, cannot be questioned in relation to the results of his decision. To say the least, the end justifies the means in this case.
This rational debate has long generated into ideological pomposity of “what ifs”. This ethical question over the choice to drop the atomic bombs will never be answered. President Truman’s decision to bomb Japan whether it be saving the number of American lives that could have lost or trying to shape the political structure of post war period was a zenith political and military to promote the interests of the United states. The bombs, however, brought an end to the most disparaging war in history. The Manhattan Project that fashioned it established the leeway of how a nation's wherewithal could be mobilized and utilized. There can be no doubt concerning the blow of the American decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Sherwin 311) Sixty years following the obliteration of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the power of the weapon has led one country after another to attain its own, at the despair of those who seek world peace. Positively the protest against the hideous of destroying Hiroshima and Japan led to the global ban of these weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear peace movement has had its successes in ensuring that atomic weapons are not put to use. Since Nagasaki and Hiroshima weapons of mass destruction have not been put to use for petty reasons, thus the peace movement has been and will continue to be a blessing.