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Why the United States Should Have Dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima

By jakesandman May 05, 2013 1158 Words
Should We Have Used the Atomic Bomb to Defeat the Japanese in WWII? Despite its destructive consequences, the American bombing of Hiroshima was necessary to put an end to the war in the Pacific. President Truman’s choice to release a nuclear weapon on Japan was the fastest solution to ending the United States’ involvement in the Second World War, making the decision the most time efficient way out. Hiroshima’s destruction was also, very possibly, the only way for the United States to win the war, because the Japanese were very clear that they were prepared to fight until they were down to their last man. The Japanese military was the strongest in the world, so ending the war with a bang was much more appealing to Americans and the Truman Administration than fighting until there was no one left to fight. Perhaps most importantly, the dropping of the atomic bomb saved the lives of millions of American soldiers and civilians, as well as Japanese soldiers and civilians. This made it not only the quickest way to bring the soldiers home and ensure the United States’ victory, but also the best way to reduce the lives lost on both sides. The Truman Administration’s decision to drop a nuclear bomb on the Japanese was horrific, but necessary in bringing about a cost-effective, Japanese surrender that saved more lives than it took away. The United States government explored many solutions to quickly end the war in Japan, but none proved as time efficient as the idea of dropping an A-bomb on a Japanese city. A top-secret military invasion of Japan, known as Operation Olympic, was planned as an alternative to dropping the bomb, and would have commenced on November 1, 1945 (Perry and Astore). An invasion would have lasted many months before the Japanese surrendered, proving that the bomb was a much speedier way to force surrender. A second invasion was also planned, called Operation Coronet, and would have begun on March 1, 1946, assuming that the Japanese had not already surrendered (Perry and Astore). This invasion would have only prolonged the war in the Pacific further, perhaps even another full year. At this time, Japan was prepared to fight to its last man, and an unconditional surrender was not expected to quickly follow an invasion (Perry and Astore). The United States government was eager to bring American troops home from Japan, and judging by the Japanese people’s position on surrender, a much more dramatic, hard-hitting solution was necessary. Following the bombings, an unconditional Japanese surrender was ratified on the U.S.S. Missouri just twenty-seven days after the destruction of Hiroshima (“Instrument of Surrender”). There was simply no other resolution to the violence between the United States and Japan that would end the years of intense fighting as time efficiently as an atomic bomb would, making it a necessary decision. The Japanese’s infamous willingness to fight until the last man was an important factor in the United States’ decision to nuke Hiroshima and, eventually, Nagasaki as well. In January of 1945, Emperor Hirohito introduced the principle of Ketsugo, meaning “self defense” (“World War II: Japanese Home Front - Ketsugo (April 1945)”). The idea behind Ketsugo was quite simply to fight until there was no one left to fight (“World War II: Japanese Home Front - Ketsugo (April 1945)”), and the Americans, who did not have an unlimited amount of soldiers, had to turn to an alternative strategy because they could not keep up with the Japanese in terms of manpower. Japan hoped for the United States to counter the ideas of Ketsugo with surrender (“World War II: Japanese Home Front - Ketsugo (April 1945)”), but instead a much more inhumane decision was made by the United States, the decision to release nuclear power on a civilian city. Even conditional surrender was out of the question for President Truman, and the Japanese’s decision to institute Ketsugo as their army strategy not only justifies the dropping of the bomb, but was also one of the main reasons America decided to utilize nuclear weapons. If we had not bombed Hiroshima, the Japanese likely would have been victorious in World War 2 due to their manpower advantage, making it completely necessary in preserving American life as we know it. Contrary to what some people believe, it is almost universally agreed among historians that the dropping of the bombs saved many more lives than it took away. Chester Nimitz, an American strategist in the Pacific Theatre, and his group of men estimated that if Operation Olympic had gone into effect, the Americans would have suffered 49,000 casualties in just the first thirty days of combat (“Operation Downfall”). Under the atomic bomb plan, no American casualties would have resulted, except for a small number of American prisoners of war being held in Hiroshima. The staff of Douglas MacArthur estimated that after just four months, America would have suffered 105,000 casualties (“Operation Downfall”). This number is greater than the actual number of Japanese deaths after the destruction of Hiroshima (about 70,000), and these are just estimates of American casualties. If these figures are not convincing enough, the total number of American military and civilian casualties that could have occurred in a full invasion was estimated by the Navy Department to be as high as four million, and as high as ten million on the Japanese side (“Operation Downfall”). Compared to these statistics, several hundred thousand deaths and injuries seems a far better sacrifice as compared to the number of people who would have been killed or injured had the United States not dropped the atomic bombs and instead instituted Operations Olympic and Coronet. Thought it cost the lives of thousands and destroyed a countless of buildings, homes, roads, and scenery, the decision to drop an atomic bomb with the power of 20,000 tons of TNT was essential to ending the United States’ engagements in the Pacific. There was no other option that would have ended the war as quickly as the bombings. Moreover, the blasts saved the United States conceivably over a year of fighting. Because the Japanese would not give up until they had no one left to fight, the United States needed to destroy Hiroshima with a nuclear weapon simply just to guarantee victory. The Japanese had an advantage when it came to manpower, so nuclear weapons compromised for this and allowed us to have the edge over them. No other course of action would have lead to as few casualties on either side as an atomic bomb. This obviously is a persuading factor to anyone debating whether or not America should have used nuclear weapons at the conclusion of World War 2. Though the after effects were immensely ruinous, the dropping of the Little Boy atomic bomb was incredibly necessary in ending the war swiftly, triumphantly, and with the least amount of casualties possible on both sides.

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