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Examines decisions to drop nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities during World War II.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Examines decisions to drop nuclear bombs on two Japanese cities during World War II.

Paper Introduction:
One of the most significant events of the modern world has been the use of nuclear weapons in warfare. Since the dropping of two small atomic devices on Japan in August, 1945, global society, international relations, warfare, science, and philosophy have been impacted. Additionally, human culture has never been quite the same. Although there are numerous perspectives from which one could address the issues surrounding the Allied bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this paper will concentrate on the decisionmaking process and alternatives available prior to August 1945. It will begin with an overview of the background to the bombing and the Manhattan Project itself. Alternatives will then be examined, including invasion, inducement, and the shock value of atomic weapons. The paper will then analyze the policy constraints of the decision based on

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A world destroyed: Hiroshima and theorigins of the arms race. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war . First, Truman wasrelatively new at international politics, having just succeeded Franklin D.Roosevelt after his death in April, 1945. New York: Vintage Books. Fusion firsthand: A personalaccount of one scientist's role in the Manhattan Project. The making of the atomic bomb. It is not stated just whose error the dropping of the bomb was. Rhodes, Richard. The Japanese would likely be forced into a surrender if a weapon wasused that would utterly defeat them without a chance at defense (For moreon the secret nature of the Manhattan Project, and the way some of thescientific community viewed this "shock" value, see, Herbert E. 15-19. Infact, ". (199 , April 19). Japan, nevertheless, was still vehemently fighting. Their reasons seemedfourfold: 1) Churchill firmly agreed with the decision to use the weapon,2) the British believed that the United States had borne the main burden ofthe Pacific theater of operations, and deserved a conclusive say in theoutcome and method, 3) Churchill also viewed the decision to use the weaponas a military matter, and, 4) the British knew their share in developingthe weapon had been small, and the costs for development lay with theUnited States. . Also, theUnited States had only limited resources of uranium-235, a necessarycomponent in the early atomic devices. War's new science. Feis, Herbert. President Truman indicated that it wasthe greatest announcement he had ever made. New York: Oxford University Press. Mr. Byrnes's . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Yet, the political systems of the world also usethe idea of nuclear annihilation to make foreign policy, increase domesticspending, and maintain the status quo of the military industrial complex.There is also a conflict between the nation-state and science, deepeningsince 1945, that holds that terrible new weapons using atomic energy shouldbe banned. Probably so, although the American government was thencounting on Soviet entry into the war to supplement the impact of theatomic bomb - in combination to compel the Japanese to recognize thatinstant surrender was the only way to avert the ruin, if not the extinctionof their nation. One account notes that incities like Okinawa, over one hundred thousand Japanese, "hunted" withmortar and fire, shelled from the sea and bombed from the air, wererefusing to give up. Day of the bomb. . (1988). However, it mustalso be remembered that the decision to use the bomb took place within alarger historical situation. By nightfall,victims of poisoning by what was thought to be a mysterious 'gas' -actually, radiation sickness - began to appear at aid stations around thedestroyed city. Even today, the city of Hiroshima stands as a memorial to the August6, 1945 event. The center of that activity is a park,known as Hiroshima Peace Park, built upon the epicenter of the bomb'sblast. (1987). Kubitschek, Herbert E. Since Roosevelthad refused to open negotiations with the Soviet government for theinternational control of atomic energy, and since he had indicated hisintention to use the new weapon to help win the war, it would have beendifficult indeed for Truman to reverse these decisions. 289-9 ). Byrnes was a firm believer in the use of thebomb, and was faced with a strong coalition within the State Departmentthat believed it unjust and illogical to eliminate and punish all otherelements responsible for war and to spare the Emperor. Thomas, Evan. Therefore, Truman's decision was confirmed and it wasdecided to use the weapon (Feis, 1966, pp. Truman, however,decided to wait to ascertain what the Soviets would do in the Pacific, andto see what the outcome of the upcoming tests in Los Alamos would provide(Maddox, 1988, Chapter VII). . Another view, purported by the "left" school of Cold Warhistoriography, holds that the decision to use the bomb was based on therealization that in a post-war world, the United States and the SovietUnion would compete strongly for the rest of the world. part of the Hiroshima myth is that the bomb simply happened,like a deux ex machina, a blinding bolt from the sunny sky of August."Somewhere behind this is a dimly perceived, "demonized" America, althoughnot nearly so demonized as the bomb itself, which seems to have had a mindof its own. Boulder:Westview Press. "Moreover,Grew concluded, for the Japanese a constitutional monarchy might be themost suitable form of government" (Feis, 1966, p. The public's goal was to use the bomb inorder to save the lives of a number of American citizens, andinadvertently, to preserve Japanese culture and livelihood as well. Billions of dollars had already been spent on thissuper-secret project in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and to think of having sucha weapon available and not using it to save American lives was unthinkable. The general story of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima is longand complex. (p. The awesome power of the bomb was evident in that at a range of up tofive hundred yards from ground zero, objects engulfed by the fireballbecame incandescent in the million-degree heat. If they could "save face," they mightsurrender without fighting to save their honor and homeland. Although there are numerousperspectives from which one could address the issues surrounding the Alliedbombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this paper will concentrate on thedecision-making process and alternatives available prior to August 1945.It will begin with an overview of the background to the bombing and theManhattan Project itself. There was also discussion on how such a device should be used inJapan, with at least two views part of the discussion. Sherwin, Martin J. New YorkReview of Books: pp. In fact, "altogether, a minimum of 78, Japanese werekilled outright or died in succeeding weeks from the effects of the blast,fire, and radiation . Japan had killed, tortured, andmaimed thousands of Americans in a wartime situation. Armed truce. Whether it was also animated by a desire to end the war before theSoviet armies had swarmed far over Manchuria remains a matter ofconjecture. Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed primarily toimpress the world with the need to accept American's plan for a stable andlasting peace - that is, primarily, America's plan for Europe? There are many such accounts of the dropping of the atomic bomb, somany that it has become part and parcel of American popular culture. Roosevelt himselfhad shrunk from the effort at Yalta, and such a reversal would have beenfar easier for him. Hebelieved that the war should be ended with the least cost to American livespossible. Before discussing thevarious alternatives, one must keep in mind a few facts. ." (Gerken, 1988, p. 3). So we thought the bomb would be a wonderful weapon as a protection and preparation for landings. Additionally, Truman, as Vice-President, hadbeen kept relatively uninformed, and knew little about the complexity ofthe Manhattan Project. At 8:15 am, the pikadon shobai (flash-bang business)occurred. Objections to the second notion were similar, what if thetest was unsuccessful? New York: McGraw Hill. The Allies were about to enter into occupiedGermany, and the Charter of the United Nations was under consideration inSan Francisco. Since the dropping of the bomb, there has been a great deal ofscholarly debate regarding the decision to use such a weapon in war. During the Potsdam Conference, President Truman discussed the matterof the bomb with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The first optionwas to give warning notice to Japan about the nature and destructive powerof the new weapon. 43-6. InMay, for instance, Grew urged President Truman to try to induce Japan tosurrender by dispelling the worst fears of the post-war consequences. . ." (Sherwin, 1987, pp. Byrnes. The public knew the atomic bomb was purportedto be a "super-weapon," but was unaware of the extent of damage it couldcause. ." (Barchelder, 1964, p. The ScienceTeacher 57: pp. . view [was] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe . Maddox, Robert James. . Up to two miles from ground zero, fires familiar to the survivors ofincendiary raids upon other Japanese cities began to spring up, with thedifference that the fires this time were everywhere at once. 17). (1986). New York: PenguinBooks. "So Truman's atomic energy legacy, while it includedseveral options, did not necessarily entail complete freedom to choosebetween them . 38-9). Kurzman, Dan. The legacy of the decision is much harder, and more widespread, anaction to assess. It was deemed that the Japanese would not be impressedor frightened enough to surrender; and that it might diminish the impact ofthe bomb when it was dropped. C. Additionally, many thought the Japanese might bringAmerican prisoners near the demonstration area. 2) The bomb should be used on a dual target - that is, ona military installation or war plant surrounded by houses and otherbuildings most susceptible to damage. New York:Simon & Schuster. . (1961). By1948 the charge was made that instead of being used as an instrument ofpeace to force Japan to surrender, the bomb was used "to keep the Russiansout of Manchuria and to impress them with the power of the new weapon"(Herken, 1988, p. The wish to use the bomb quickly as possible was stimulated bythe hope of suspending the transfer of American youth to the Pacific and todispel the vision of an embattled landing in small boats on the shores ofJapan. 19 ). Besides this view, there were certain ethical considerations to usingsuch a weapon. 111). These grim experiences were taken as proof that the ordeal stillahead might be long and agonizing (Feis, 1966, p. The bomb could stopthe killing on both sides, thus promulgating the notion that the needs ofthe many outweigh the needs of the few. Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press. (1966). Fogelman, Edwin, ed. On the lid of the coffin a nameless poetprinted the words: "Please rest in peace, for the error will not berepeated" (Buruma, 199 , p. Hiroshima, for instance, waschosen for a variety of reasons, none the least because Hiroshima waslocated in a flat area, affording the effects of the bomb in a convincingdemonstration. (199 , October 25). It was thought that the effects ofthe bomb on such a target would make the maximum impression on the militaryand civilian rulers of Japan. For the purposes of this paper, it is sufficient to note someof the details of the day the bomb detonated. Under this notion,the use of atomic weaponry profoundly affected the way American policy wasmade after victory in Europe, and although certainly contributed to the endof the war in Japan, was used in the East to show the Soviets that theAmerican government had the technology, and would use that same technology,against any aggressor as necessary. In fact, Japan's surrenderlittle more than a week after the dropping of the second bomb made anyinvasion force completely unnecessary (Kurzman, 1986, intro and passim). Using themilitary to invade Japan, however, had several side effects. Newsweek:pp. Instead, many scientists believe that nuclear energy should beharnessed for peace, and any technological innovations involving the atomshould be used to benefit humankind (Rhodes, 1986, passim). Nevertheless, the decision to bomb the Japanese cities of Hiroshimaand Nagasaki in August, 1945 left a legacy that is certain to endure wellbeyond the confines of the policies that placed them into existence. . After all, what kind of a President would allow so much money to be spenton a weapon that might save millions of lives and not use it? 43-6). Japan wouldhave to be beaten into surrender, and the combined losses from an initialassault on the main islands were estimated to be a possible 5 , . This could be accomplished by allowing Japan to surrender andkeep their Imperial government. Alternatives will then be examined, includinginvasion, inducement, and the shock value of atomic weapons. Atomic diplomacy. TheManhattan Project, under General Leslie Groves, did have a testable weaponby mid-1945, and, depending on the test, would be able to produce a weaponfor use against Japan (Thomas, 1987, passim). Forty-five years later, visitors to Hiroshima find that the cityis a center of peace activity. Manysaw the bomb as the veritable "beginning" of the Cold War. Inaddition, General George Marshall, recalled: One of the things that appalled me was the cost in casualties of an invasion. This school of thought asks the question: Why did the Americangovernment refuse to attempt to exploit Japanese efforts to surrender? (1964). Batchelder, R. 4). Another optionwas inducement, in the sense that the Japanese might agree to surrender ifthey were informed how they would be treated in defeat. The majority of the Americanpopulace were relieved since over one million American servicemen who mighthave taken part in Operation Olympic, the first invasion of the Japanesehome islands, were now free from obligation. 197-2 ). After much discussion,however, on June 1, 1945, Secretary Byrnes submitted three recommendationsto President Truman: 1) The bomb should be used against Japan as soon aspossible. The atomic bomb and the end of World War II. We knew the Japanese were determined and fanatical like the Morros and we would have to exterminate them, almost man by man. (1986). Plans forOperation Olympic were still very much in place within the decision-makingapparatus into the summer months of 1945 (Schulzinger, 1984, pp. war that preceded it, with Manchuria in 1931, with China in 1937,with Pearl Harbor, Manila, Singapore, Java, or Hong Kong, does not impingeon the religious Hiroshima mind" (Buruma, 199 , p. From war to cold war. The first option, invasion and combined assault, had been discussedfor several months, but had to wait until the victory in Europe wasensured. "Yet it isinconsistent to single out for condemnation the act of dropping an atomicbomb and at the same time implicitly to recommend continuation of a warthat one knows will include direct attack upon noncombatants withincendiary bombs . Kubitschek,199 , pp. Buruma, Ian. New York: Atheneum. But we didn't realize its value to give the Japanese such a shock that they could surrender without loss of face (Feis, 1966, p. In almost everyrespect, Britain acquiesced to the American decision. (1987). 11). Aswell, the very idea of using nuclear weapons on a civilian target bringsthe account ever closer to modern debate. . In usingthis method, the determination of the rightness or wrongness of an act isnot its consequence, but its quality. A few months after the use of the weapon, over 75 percentof Americans surveyed believed that the use of the bomb was morallyjustified. Total destructionstretched out in a half-mile radius from the point of the explosion,leaving the rubble of one building indistinguishable from that of the next. TheUnited States had begun to assemble larger forces for the next Pacificaction, and the Soviet government was preparing to invade Manchuria.Although the Japanese Navy and Air Force were all but remnants, theirspirit of defiance was still very much in place. . Herken, Gregg. Truman wasalso bound to the past by his own uncertain position and by the prestige ofhis predecessor, who had initiated the Manhattan Project. The idea that the bomb might have had something to do with the". 145-6). . Objections tothe first option were many, but centered around the notion that if noticewere given and then an unsuccessful detonation occurred, the results wouldbe disastrous. 58-9). In the center of the park a simple replica of an ancient clay hutstands, shielding a coffin that contains a register of the names of peoplewho died because of the bomb. 'Mr. Some, of course, were disturbed, and some of the scientists whoworked under the Manhattan Project felt guilty enough to form scientificassociations to prevent future use of atomic weaponry. Operation Olympic, the invasion of the Japanese mainislands, was thus planned, with a frontal assault by Air and Navy forces,and a mass invasion by combined Army and Marine personnel. A third option wasshock. Scholars,politicians, and the public are still debating the wisdom of the events ofAugust, 1945, and will perhaps use that date to mark a clear transition inthe way humans use weapons to wage war. An atomic shrine. . The devils of Hiroshima. First and foremost was the fact that at this point,scientists were not sure of the consistency of technology used to ensure asuccessful detonation, and if a device were used but failed to detonate,the resulting public relations fall-out would be disastrous. Thus, in this philosophicalparadigm, the simple act of dropping an atomic bomb was clearly immoralbecause it constitutes a direct attack upon noncombatants. The second judgment surrounds themoral question of whether using such a weapon was right or wrong. In fact, if any invasionary force was to besuccessful, the Soviet part in the operation was vital. One of the most significant events of the modern world has been theuse of nuclear weapons in warfare. 38-9. Or,alternatively, why did they refuse to test if a Russian declaration of warwould force capitulation? 197-2 ). 3). Theevidence strongly suggests that the view which the President's personalrepresentative offered to one of the atomic scientists in May 1945 was anaccurate statement of policy: (Alperovitz, 1987, pp. Members of the Manhattan Projecthad to be sure that whatever radioactive material was used would be put toeffective use (Schulzinger, 1984, pp. (199 ). During his first few weeks inoffice Truman was unprepared for the enormity of his task and had no formaldiplomatic policy of his own. 15). American diplomacy in the twentiethcentury. Hiroshima: The decision to use the A-Bomb. As a surprise and unexplained, it would bethe more fearsome (Feis, 1966, pp. A6.----------------------- 1 Schulzinger, Robert D. The winning weapon. Culturally, populations live in both fear and awe of theuse of nuclear weapons. References Alperovitz, Gar. 3) The bomb should be used without explicitprior warning of the nature of the weapon by which we meant to enforce thecall to surrender. . New YorkTimes: p. . However, one must also be mindful of the fact that in May of 1945 thewar in Europe was over. (1984). (1988). The decision to use the bomb, however, was far more complex.Reaction in the United States to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki(August 9, 1945) was unambivalent. The irreversible decision, 1939-195 .Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 15). Princeton: Princeton University Press. There were, of course, several alternatives presented to PresidentTruman prior to his decision to use the bomb. The first is rather utilitarian: the use of the weapon shortenedthe war and lessened the casualties. Invasion also assumed that the Soviet Union would honor its agreementand invade from the north. In July, Grew was no longer Acting Secretary of State, having beensucceeded by James F. Since the dropping of two small atomicdevices on Japan in August, 1945, global society, international relations,warfare, science, and philosophy have been impacted. (1987). In early 1991, for instance, theuse of tactical nuclear weaponry in the Gulf Crisis was discussed, withmost finding it an unacceptable alternative based on data from Hiroshimaand Nagasaki (Evan Thomas, 1991, pp. The third alternative to ending the war was the use of a weapon soterrible that it would compel Japan to immediately and unconditionallysurrender. The second that a demonstrative detonation might begiven in some unpopulated area, giving the invited representatives a chanceto view firsthand the destructive power of the new weapon. Both the American military and governmental planners had aconsiderable dilemma. . Others, most notably former Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew believedthat the war could end without either invasion or advanced weaponry. For any invasionary force to be effective, however, it would firstbe necessary to increase Allied attacks on Japanese forces and basesthroughout the Pacific, many of which were still held by dedicated andcompetent forces. (1991, February 18). The paperwill then analyze the policy constraints of the decision based on relationswith the Soviet Union, whether the Pacific war could have ended earlier,and the ethical considerations surrounding the decision to drop the bombs.Finally, the paper will conclude with an assessment of the decision, aswell as comment on the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in modern thought. 47-8). Onemust also remember that atomic energy was largely misunderstood, as was theuse of the same for weapons. Additionally, humanculture has never been quite the same. Weisman, Steven R. Thomas, Hugh. Divulgence to the Japanese in advance of the nature andpower of the new weapon would hinder rather than serve America's wish toend the war at once. TheJapanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are both known to most Americans,and have become so-called "atomic shrines" (Weisman, 199 , p. Of course, the prime incentive of the heavily funded and secretManhattan Project had been to assure and hasten the defeat of Germany.However, a workable weapon was not forthcoming for use in Europe, and thereis some doubt that it would have even been used against Germany. Sentiment on the home front was not conducive to along and continued conflict, although the obvious and most certain way toend the war was to undeniably defeat the Japanese in every aspect,culminating in the invasion of the Japanese home islands. A6). Again, there were several important considerations in using an atomicdevice against Japan. There are, then, two ways to judge the use of the bomb in an ethicalcontext. Japanese suicide planes were flinging themselves inexalted desperation against the off-shore American fleet - with frighteningeffect. Certainly, the public, governmental officials, and even many of thescientists involved, had little idea about the power, or dangers, ofradiation. To get to the plains would have been a very costly operation in lives.

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