Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or Truman: A Modern Day Hero

As this is the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, I felt it appropriate to write on a subject that I have seriously studied this past 10 years. Ever since the 50th anniversary of the end of the war and the debacle that was the Enola Gay exhibit, I decided to learn for myself what really happened all those many years ago. While the whole truth may never be known, there is much that we do know now that we didn’t know just 10 years ago. I hope, if even in some small way, you might learn something new from my words below. Happy V-E Day!

Dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki ended the war with Japan and saved millions of lives, both Allied and Japanese. The bombing of these two cities forced a surrender that was nearly unfathomable to the military leaders in Japan at the time. If it wasn’t for the atomic bomb, the US likely would have been forced into a long, deadly struggle to end the war with Japan, a struggle that might have been far too long and difficult for the American public to have accepted. While Japan would still have most likely surrendered, in my opinion, it would have been a negotiated surrender that would have meant more war in the future.

With that as an opening paragraph, I’d best get to justifying it.

As I studied and contemplated writing about the dropping of Fat Man and Little Boy, I realized that I was getting into a subject that is more conducive to book format than blog format. So, I’m going to cheat a little here.

I will be writing this in sections, each section will be a separate blog entry. I will use this entry as the table of contents for the rest. This will help break it up into more manageable chunks as well as giving others an opportunity to comment on more specific items. The sections will be uploaded over a period of time. While the basic outline and writing is done for all of the sections, details and corrections still need to be made. Please be patient.

Please note I will, at sometime, include a complete bibliography of works used to make this entry. Nearly all of the research material used was produced after 1991. It wasn’t until that time that most of the government material became unclassified giving a much clearer view of events as they took place. With that, let us start with a general introduction as to what I plan to discuss.

As the war was coming to an end, President Truman was faced with an incredibly difficult decision. The fighting in Europe was basically over and the focus turned towards Japan. The decision facing President Truman was how to force Japan to surrender. Not just surrender, but to surrender unconditionally. He could call for an invasion of Japan, an action that would likely result in millions of casualties, he could call for a blockade and continued bombing raids, a strategy that would take untold time, tie up massive resources and cause millions of civilian deaths, or he could try a new weapon, one of unknown but suspected massive power. As we all know, he chose the later.

From that point on, his actions have undergone a scrutiny of unbelievable proportions. He has been savaged as a war criminal, compared to Hitler and condemned a mass murder by some. Others consider his actions heroic. I would like to explain why I feel he is one of the later, a hero.

Table of Contents

Section 1 Alternatives to dropping the atomic bomb / Casualty estimates for alternatives

Section 2 Japan’s defenses, what we knew then, what was reality

Section 3 The decision to drop the bomb / How the cities were chosen / Why there was no demonstration bombing

Section 4 Why did this have to happen, wasn’t Japan Trying to Surrender?

Section 5 Conclusion

Section 6 FAQ – Separating Myth from Reality

AS ALWAYS, POLITE CONVERSATION ONLY. ANY RUDE COMMENTS, ATTACKS, VULGARITY OR THE LIKE WILL RESULT IN THE COMMENT BEING DELETED AND THE PERSON BEING BANNED. We can disagree and still be polite at the same time. In that way, we can all learn together, something I greatly enjoy. If you find this impossible, find some website that has linked to this posting and make your rude comments and attacks there.