Why Did America Drop the Bomb?

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CW History
Mr. Rioux
06.05.11
Was it right to drop two atomic bombs?

“If you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast”1, said President Harry Truman to justify the use of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But isn’t this the exact opposite of what is preached in the bible? “If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other also” (Luke 6:29), it does not say that we should slap back to even the score. So was dropping the bombs the wrong decision, or was it the only way for Truman to end the war without many more casualties on the American side?

After the testing of the bomb in Alamogordo New Mexico, when it was clear just how powerful and terrifying the destructive force it held was, there were many more decisions to be made by Truman and his advisors. The most important on was of course where to drop the bomb. On Tokyo, on an untouched city, on an uninhabited island or on a military base, there were many options but which one had the most advantages militarily and also politically? General Marshall thought “that the A-bomb should first be used not against civilians but against military installations”1 he wanted to save the lives of innocent Japanese civilians, but many, like the president’s chief advisor Byrnes, were for dropping the bomb on an untouched city to clearly demonstrate the destructiveness and effects of the bomb. Only a few scientists involved in the Manhattan project wanted to drop the atomic bomb on a lonely island with observers from Japan to intimidate them. In the end it was decided to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because they were untouched and Hiroshima had a military plant close by, also it “ranked as Japan’s eighth largest city, with 250000 people.”2

Not only were there many factors to be considered in how and where to use the atomic weapon but also reasons why. The main reason President Truman stated was to end the war quickly and to save American lives; he saw the land invasion planned...
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