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Did U.S. Have to Drop Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by YankeeFan, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    When did this become a question?

    Did the United States have to drop the bomb?

    President Harry S. Truman defended his decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the only way to avoid a full-scale invasion of Japan. That, arguably, would have cost more lives, American and Japanese, than the approximately 200,000 who died in the two atomic attacks.

    Critics have contended that the Japanese were sending signals that they were prepared to surrender, but that these were either missed or ignored, and that the United States wanted to demonstrate to the world — and particularly to the Soviet Union — the awesome power it had at its disposal.

    The New York Times would like to know how our readers view the decision 70 years after the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Submit your arguments, and we will publish some of them before the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing on Sunday.

  2. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    This became a question when historians learned that the Soviet Union's declaration of war on Japan was regarded by leading Japanese officials, perhaps including Hirohito, as a catastrophe sufficient in itself to require Japan's surrender. Of course, Truman and our government had no way of knowing that. You can only assess decisions on the basis of what the decision-makers knew (or thought they knew, which is where most mistakes come in) at the time.
  3. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    In today's worldview does:

    Truman dropping the bomb = Teddy Roosevelt hunting big game = Washington/Jefferson owning slaves?

    By today's standard, there's no way to defend the actions of Roosevelt, or certainly Washington/Jefferson.

    But, does Truman deserve the same treatment? If we cast Truman's decision as wrong, or even evil, aren't we looking at the word as how we wish it were, and not how it was, and may even be in the future?
  4. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    "Would it not be wondrous for this whole nation to be destroyed like a beautiful flower?" -- War Minister Anami
  5. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    There was a substantial group within the Japanese military who rejected surrender even after the bombs were dropped. Junior officers tried to kidnap the Emperor to prevent his statement to the nation choosing surrender. But there was also a substantial group within the government looking for a way out before the bombs were dropped. Their hope was Russian mediation. When Stalin declared war, as he had promised to at Yalta, that game was up and that faction of the Japanese government began to consider surrender as an option. Included persons close to Hirohito.
    This is all very academic. Given the facts before him, Truman made the only decision he could have.
  6. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    Yes. And this is just about the highest praise one can give. It was an impossible situation.
  7. BitterYoungMatador2

    BitterYoungMatador2 Well-Known Member

    I don't mind questioning history and the decisions made, even if questioning means the answer remains the same. The only way you learn anything is to truly pick it apart and study it. That's what all of that dissecting of animals was about in science class.
  8. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Aug. 6, 1945, based on the dateline of that NYT piece where he "defended his decision to drop atomic bombs." You don't have to defend something if everybody agrees with you.
  9. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Regardless of the right/wrong aspect in dropping the bomb, it forever removed us from the moral high ground of ever being able to deny anyone else the weapon --- without sounding like the USH (United States of Hypocrites) we are. 70 years after it was first dropped, we remain the ONLY nation ever to use it against another people. Scoreboard still reads, God Bless America 2, Evil Empire 0, Rest of the World 0.

    And I think Truman starting the Cold War in 1947 caused far more damage, over generations, than his dropping of the bomb.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  10. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    True, but I wish we'd stop analyzing history from the position that it's possible to wage a completely sanitized war.

    In an impossibly complex war, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that any decision can be both correct and horrifically amoral.
  11. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    Rest of the World, 0? Yeah, America's dropping of the bombs and saving millions of lives on both sides really left the Rest of the World defeated for eternity.
    heyabbott likes this.
  12. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    If you've got the time to slog through it, I highly recommend Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb. He makes an interesting point that, in the use of the A-bomb, the U.S. (sort of) made its further use unthinkable. There was a thread about WWII deaths earlier this year that sort of led to the same inference.
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