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Atomic Bomb - Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Topics: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II / Pages: 6 (1498 words) / Published: Aug 11th, 2010
“The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a necessary evil to end the Second World War.” To what extent do you agree with the statement? Explain your answer.

I agree with the statement to a large extent. World War II is known for acts of heroism on both sides, as well as controversial decisions. One major event that has long been debated was the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The political landscape before the bomb was dropped prevented a Japanese surrender. The war would have taken much longer had an invasion been attempted. An invasion would have cost more lives for both sides than the bombings. The Allies were justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I agree with the statement as the bombing was the most viable way to force the Japanese to surrender. The Allied offer of the Potsdam Conference on July 26, 1945 stipulated that the war would end only when the Japanese surrendered and gave up Emperor Hirohito. This offer was completely unacceptable to the Japanese, who, at the time, regarded their emperor as a god. President Harry S Truman was in a situation where he could not change the terms of the offer, because the American citizens wanted Hirohito imprisoned, if not executed. Changing the terms of the offer would also be regarded as a sign of weakness on the Americans' part, which was unacceptable during a time of war. Thus, dropping the atomic bomb could cause the Japanese to surrender without having the Americans to change the terms.
However, it is considered as a war crime and an immoral act against humanity to drop the atomic bombs onto Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even scientists who worked on the bomb were against using it and said: “If the U.S. were the first to release this new means of indiscriminate destruction upon mankind, she would sacrifice public support throughout the world, precipitate the race for armaments, and prejudice the possibility of reaching an international agreement on the future control of such weapons.” Using such a policy of indiscriminate murder to shorten the war is morally wrong. In the opinion of the court, the act of dropping an atomic bomb on cities was at the time governed by international law found in the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907 and the Hague Draft Rules of Air Warfare of 1922–1923 and was therefore illegal.

Nonetheless, I feel the atomic bomb is essential to bring WW2 to an end. Even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan was looking for a way out. Indeed, the only thing preventing a Japanese surrender was a matter of semantics: Japan wanted to surrender unconditionally without using the words "unconditional surrender." While the question of what would have happened is by its nature speculative and cannot be answered conclusively, those who made the decision to drop the bombs did so in the belief that the bomb would be of "no material assistance in our war against Japan." (Admiral William D. Leahy).
Another reason that the Americans were justified in dropping the bomb was that it ended the war much more quickly than would an invasion. The second of the two atomic bombs was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 and the Japanese surrendered 5 days later on August 14, 1945. The alternative to the use of the atomic bomb, an invasion over land, had been scheduled for November 1 had the bombing not succeeded or had it been cancelled. This invasion could have dragged on for months, if not years, and the war easily would have carried on into 1946.
However, the atomic bomb can be dropped at some rural areas instead of heavily populated cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The ultimate aim of the Americans for dropping the atomic bomb was to show the Japanese how powerful American was. Dropping the atomic bomb at a rural area could still show how powerful the atomic bomb was and the Japanese would surrender in the end and not risk letting the Americans to drop another bomb onto a big city which would cause a great loss of lives. In this way, the Americans can achieve their aim of ending the war sooner while at the same time without destroying the lives of the innocent Japanese citizens.
In my opinion, dropping the bombs onto the cities were necessary as United States only had two bombs (plus one tested), and the bombs were very expensive and time-consuming to manufacture. If the Japanese were not sufficiently impressed with the show of strength, then the United States would only have one bomb left to attack Japan with. Since they did not surrender after the bombing of Hiroshima, the Japanese definitely would not have surrendered if the bomb were to drop at a rural area. The bomb at rural areas would not show the full power of the bomb as clearly as actually using it on a target. Also, the demonstration may not have shown any of the power of the bomb: the bomb could have been a dud. Even if the bomb did work, the United States would have to tell the Japanese where to look ahead of time, and the Japanese might have put prisoners of war or other people in the target area. There are many flaws with the idea of have a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.
Lastly, I agree with the statement is because the bombings claimed far less lives than would have been taken during an invasion. Between the two cities, there was estimated to have been approximately 115,000 deaths as a result of the bombings. President Truman estimated that as many as one million American soldiers would have died in an invasion of Japan, as would most of the two million Japanese soldiers stationed in the home islands, as well as many civilians. President Truman intended the atomic bomb to be a way to end the war at a minimum cost of American and Japanese lives.
However, one of the reasons for the Americans to drop the atomic bomb was to take revenge from the Japanese’s attack on Pearl Harbour. By way of comparison, the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbour killed 2408 people and wounded 3596. The civilian casualties at Pearl Harbour were 68 dead and 35 wounded (1.6% of total casualties). It is argued that the attacks on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 provide justification for dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as this is the easiest argument to dispose of. There is an assertion:
If you get into an argument with somebody at a bar because you spilled his beer and refused to buy him another one, you are in the wrong, and he has every right to tell everyone in the bar what a prick you are. If he breaks into your house with a knife, later that night, he's now in the wrong, and you are within your rights to shoot him. This argument might be valid if there were a certain degree of rough proportionality between the attack providing justification and the response. Here, however, there is no proportionality. 32 times as many people were killed in the atomic attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as were at Pearl Harbour; moreover, this does not include the long-term effects of the attacks. The disproportionality becomes even more obvious when we note that 98.4% of the casualties at Pearl Harbour were military, as opposed to 5% at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Beyond the obvious disproportionality, this argument is inapposite in another respect. "If he breaks into your house with a knife" assumes a degree of necessity that is not present in the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Moreover, under the law, even self-defence must be proportionate to the danger presented by the assailant and not exceed the amount of force reasonably necessary to ward off the danger.
I feel that dropping the atomic bomb is necessary. During the Japanese occupation in Asian, more than millions civilians were killed. In the Nanking Massacre alone, 100,000–200,000 people were killed and around 300,000 casualties. This number, as compared to the number of deaths and casualties caused by the atomic bomb is far larger. The dropping of the atomic bomb did not cause more death, but actually to end the sufferings of people in Asia.
In conclusion, the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a justified strategy on the Allies' part. A Japanese surrender was impossible due to the political landscape before the bombings. The war would have dragged on much longer had the bomb not been dropped and an invasion carried out instead. The bombings claimed fewer lives than an invasion would have. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought a decisive end to the Second World War, as well as ushering in the nuclear age; changing the world forever.

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