Lies being Taught; PRO'S
1. Was necessary to save allied lives/Preferable to an invasion. Although the necessity of a US invasion was debated within the US military (US Army was for, US Navy was against) the general consensus judging by the Battle of Iwo Jima and Battle of Okinawa is that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would be costly.
2. A deterrent to the USSR. The Soviets invaded Manchuria on August 9, 1945 only 3 days after the Hiroshima bombing and 9 hours before the Nagasaki bombing. The US were aware that the USSR would enter the Pacific War on 9 August because at the Yalta Conference Stalin had promised Roosevelt that he would declare war on Japan no later than 3 months after the end of the war in Europe (Germany surrendered on 7 May, which makes 9 August the latest date in which the Soviets would declare war on Japan). It was therefore no coincidence that Truman unleashed two nukes, one 3 days before and one 9 hours after 9 August. It was an attempt to end the war before the Soviets could occupy significant territory as well as showing the USSR that the US was in possession of nukes.
Now the truth; CON'S
Evil is as evil does. Mass burning of civilians mainly children, women or old men is not a war crime. It is crime against humanity. Dropping atomic bomb on women, children old men was biggest terrorist activity the world has ever seen.
- Evidence shows that the atomic bombs played little to no role in Japan's surrender. The 2nd bomb dropped on Nagasaki was on August 9 but Japan didn't surrender until August 15. If the atomic bombs played a decisive role in Japan's surrender, Japan would've surrendered immediately rather than wait 7 days at the risk of more atomic bombings. Particularly when USA did not have any other bombs to drop. Remember it was just a 3 day gap between the bombing of Hiroshima and the bombing of Nagasaki. The atomic bombings were obviously not enough to convince them. As many in the U.S. military predicted, the atomic bombs were unnecessary and futile to get Japan to surrender.
- Between August 9 and August 15 the Soviets declared war on Japan, invaded Japanese occupied China and destroyed the Japanese army in Manchuria. This event was what persuaded the Japanese to surrender on August 15. This is because Japan believed they could still end the war on favourable terms if the Soviet Union stayed out of it, but the Soviet intervention crushed all hopes Japan had left. This is proven by the fact that while the Japanese cabinet ignored the atomic bombings, they panicked and called an emergency meeting after hearing that the Soviets had invaded Manchuria.
- Most U.S. military commanders such as Eisenhower, MacArthur, Leahy and Nimitz confessed in their memoirs and wartime diaries that the Soviet intervention and the U.S. naval blockade was enough to get a Japanese surrender. These men knew more about the military situation than President Truman.
- It's been suggested that Truman's real motive in using the atomic bombs was not necessarily to end the war but to use the atomic bombs on cities and people - something he couldn't do in a testing site. Truman believed that the war against Japan was an opportunity to test the atomic bomb on cities and people to examine its effects. This is proven by the fact Truman selected Hiroshima and Nagasaki to drop the bombs - these two cities were largely untouched, heavily populated and therefore allowed Truman to measure and research for weapons of mass destruction on whole cities.
- Truman set up the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) after the war to examine the victims of the atomic bombs to investigate the effects the atomic bombs had on their bodies. The ABCC was purely for scientific research and it didn't provide any sort of medical care for the victims (to their grief the survivors believed that was the ABCC's purpose). This is further proof that Truman was interested in knowing how much damage the atomic bombs caused on innocent civilians.
- The Americans viewed the Japanese as a sub-human race. All Japanese Americans were also put in camps. In 1944, a public poll showed that 13% of the U.S. public voted for the "complete extermination of the Japanese race". Such emotional anti-Japanese sentiment made the U.S. public believe using atomic weapons on Japanese cities was justified.
- After the war, many Americans saw a connection between the way American troops mutilated the dead bodies of Japanese troops, the fact that Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps, and the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan. It was obvious that there was intense hatred specifically toward the Japanese.
- The U.S. military were the most sensitive when it came to casualties, this is why they feared invading Japan. Contrast this to the Japanese military thinking of kamikaze and banzai charge. The U.S. were under a perception that the entire Japanese population was ready to resist just like their military. Contrary to popular belief, Japan actually protected their civilians and never forced women and children to fight. The bushido code only applied to soldiers. At Iwo Jima, all the Japanese civilians were evacuated before the battle and the only Japanese left on Iwo Jima were the soldiers. At Okinawa, there were no Japanese civilians to begin with. The civilians at Okinawa were Okinawans - who are a different ethnic group. As a result, the Japanese treated them the same way as Chinese and Filipinos. The perception that the Japanese would resist to the death was enhanced by U.S. propaganda to justify the use of the atomic bomb.
- Truman definitely saw the propaganda value that the atomic bombs would have. The dropping of the atomic bombs can even be said as not the end of WWII but the start of the Cold War. Truman didn't want to see any communism in Asia let alone Japan and therefore wanted to keep the Soviets away. The Soviets were so stunned by the atomic bombings that they didn't demand joint occupation of Japan like they did with Germany. This was what Truman had hoped for. The Cold War had begun and it was USA 1 USSR 0.
- Some have defined the atomic bombings as a form of state terrorism no different to 9/11. In both cases, the U.S. and al-Qaeda targeted innocents to achieve a political goal and psychologically terrorize the population. As the former U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson said in 1947: "The atomic bomb was more than a weapon of terrible destruction; it was a psychological weapon." Same as terrorism.
- There are some who call it the classic example of a war crime. Those who don't think it is a war crime ask yourself this: Say the Allies won the war without dropping any atomic bombs. But say if during the war Japan or Germany had dropped an atomic bomb on an Allied city. Would you classify that act as a war crime?
Nowhere but in America do people get taught that atomic bombs were used to save lives. I see it as an attempt by some Americans to justify an atrocious war crime/ terrorism committed. Not even President Truman thought about "saving lives" when he made the decision. The use of atomic weaponry on civilian cities had no military significance whatsoever in ending a war that was already over. Mislead by the impact of the atomic bombings, not many Americans are even aware that the Soviet Union entered the Pacific War - arguably the reason why Japan surrendered exactly on August 15, 1945 and not sooner.
The flaw of the argument for atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that it relies on the fact that a US invasion was the only other alternative to end WW2.
Was a US invasion necessary?
With no navy, no air force, their armies losing in China, their people at home starving to death, American bombers ruling their skies, an effective American sea blockade in place, the Soviet Union having just declared war on them, and with martial law imposed, Japan was essentially defeated by August 1945. America had air superiority over Japanese skies and sea superiority in Japanese waters. Japan didn't even have the ability to shoot down the lone unguarded bombers that carried the atomic bombs. Whether the US invaded it or not, Japan's surrender would've been inevitable.
Was there an alternative?
Without using atomic bombs or invading Japan, Truman could've:
1. Waited until the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 9;-
- Because of the close proximity of the Soviet Union's entry into the Pacific War and the nuclear bombings, it is unclear over which one of these had the biggest impact to Japan's surrender. It is quite possible that it was purely the Soviet Union's entrance into the Pacific War that got the Japanese surrender when you compare the date Japan surrendered (August 15) to the date the second atomic bomb was dropped (August 9). This lengthy timeframe may suggest that atomic bombs did not play a key role in the surrender. By contrast, the Soviets invaded Manchuria on August 9, and by August 15, occupied it and threatened the Japanese home islands.
2. Waited for the US sea blockade to end the war;-
- A sea blockade was more effective than a US invasion to end WWII. The Japanese military were eagerly anticipating a US invasion so they could inflict American casualties. If the US publicly denied an invasion of Japan it would mean no American casualties and would signal to Japan that defeat was inevitable. The US Navy was against an invasion and strongly backed a sea blockade for this very reason. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and Gen. Carl Spaatz of the USAAF believed that in the event of this scenario, Japanese leaders would ultimately give in. (Remember, Japan had no navy and no air force to relieve the blockade).
3. Given a public message to Japan saying that the imperial family would be saved from war crimes trials;-
- The Japanese military resisted primarily to defend the imperial family from post-war prosecution. Japanese military leaders believed the Allies' "unconditional surrender" meant that the imperial family would be powerless. Truman did not assuage the feelings of Japanese on this issue Gen. Douglas MacArthur knew the importance of the imperial family to the Japanese military and therefore urged Truman to let Japan know that no harm will befall their imperial family if Japan accepted the unconditional surrender.
If Truman was truly humane and serious about "saving lives" he would've tried these alternatives before resorting to nuclear bombs. This is why I believe Truman purposely used nuclear weapons something which probably FDR would have avoided which may have led to his death.
I hardly think deliberately destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki's hospitals, universities, high schools, primary schools, kindergardens, temples and residential suburbs was the difference between winning or losing WW2. At least with conventional bombing, bombers aim for specific military-related targets (like a barracks, munitions factory, depot etc).
If the atomic bombs were dropped on the fishes in the ocean to show its might or in the frontlines it wouldn't of been such a big issue. The regrettable aspects of the atomic bombings were that it was militarily unnecessary and used on civilians. Many Americans lack the sympathy because their country was the perpetrator and not the victim. If Germany or Japan had used an atomic bomb on Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix etc. There is no doubt that Americans would condemn that act and call it a state terrorism or war crime - even if the Germans argued that "it saved lives".
Is it a war crime?
Nuking civilian cities is classified as a war crime, even back in 1945. The US signed the Hague Convention in 1907 regarding the rules of war and the bombing of civilians. It was against international law to deliberately target non-combatant civilians, and kill them by any method. The atomic bombings resulted in the mass murder of millions of non-combatants en masse, and the US therefore violated the Hague Convention and broke an international treaty. It is never justified to break an international treaty that your country had signed and pledged to abide to.
Is it terrorism?
The French word terrorisme is derived from the Latin verb terreō meaning "I frighten" and refers to the killing of innocent people or civilians to achieve a political goal by psychologically terrorizing the population by violent "spectacle" or "Shock and Awe".
Former U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson said in 1947: "The atomic bomb was more than a weapon of terrible destruction; it was a psychological weapon." Same as terrorism
With inputs from ‘Beau’