Deciding to Save Lives with the Atomic Bomb

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3 SEP 2002
During the crucial days and weeks in the summer of 1945, American officials from President Harry S. Truman on down, sought out a strategy to save as many U.S. soldiers and sailors lives as possible. As one may well imagine, these officials were willing to use almost any measure to end what had become a fight to the finish against the forces of Imperial Japan. The Germans forced America into manufacturing an atomic bomb that would change the history of the art of war. Many factors played a part in the decision making process to use this new form of mass destruction. Empathy combined with foresight allows you to forecast how others are likely to react or behave in different situations. From America's standpoint, this crucial development helped save thousands of American lives. Despite the fact that thousands of human beings still died. In the later part of 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a persuasive letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt about concerns that he had that would affect mankind for the rest of eternity. Einstein, and several of his colleagues explained to President Roosevelt that the Nazis of Germany were trying to purify U-235, also known as the separation of Uranium. If the Nazis succeeded, they would be able to produce a weapon of mass destruction. America wanted to make sure that they kept their world dominance by producing this type of weapon first. To ensure that this goal was carried out, the Americans and British rapidly underwent the top secret Manhattan Project, also known as Tube Alloys in Great Britain. Simply put, the Manhattan Project or Tube Alloys was committed to expedient research and production that would produce a viable atomic bomb. From the time of its conception, to the actual employment of the weapon, the total spent was well over two billion tax paying dollars. The Project involved two different styles of atomic bombs. One bomb was filled with Uranium and the other with Plutonium. The majority of concern from physicists working on the Manhattan Project was that their involvement might slaughter thousands of Japanese, including many innocent civilians. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful. "The formulas for refining Uranium and putting together a working bomb were created and seen to their logical ends by some of the greatest minds of our time. Among these people who unleashed the power of the atomic bomb was J. Robert Oppenheimer." (Truman Library) Mr.Oppenheimer was the director of the top secret development, but after witnessing the explosion with their own eyes, reactions among the scientists and engineers were inclusive. This was a shock since everyone was first excited to produce a bomb with such a great magnitude of destruction. "Isidor Rabi felt that the equilibrium in nature had been upset -- as if humankind had become a threat to the world it inhabited. J. Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from Bhagavad Gita. ‘I am become Death,' he said, ‘the destroyer of worlds.' Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, ‘Now we're all sons of bitches.'" (Truman Library) By the beginning of September 1944, Japan was almost completely defeated through a practically complete sea and air blockade. The Japanese military was still not willing to surrender. "If the decision could have been made by Japan's civilian leaders or even the Japanese people, the war probably would have come quickly to an end, but unfortunately the decision was not theirs. It lay in the hands of the military, and particularly in the hands of army leaders. "By this time the Japanese Navy had virtually ceased to exist, almost all its ships having become either unserviceable or having been sunk. Leaders...
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