The Decision Of A Lifetime: Dropping The Atomic Bomb On Japan

2429 words - 10 pages

The dropping of the atomic bomb may be one of the most controversial topics in American history. Could there have been another way to end the war without obliterating two Japanese cities? Several historians have taken a side and stated their interpretation of the situation. There are numerous factors that can sway the argument either way depending upon how influential you determine those factors to be. Some main historians that debated this topic are Robert Maddox, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, and Gar Alperovitz. Each of these historians provides us with different insight, and a different answer to the question, was it necessary to drop the atomic bomb to end World War II?
Historian Robert James Maddox starts the debate by siding with Truman and states that he made the right decision in dropping the bomb. Maddox uses several influential meetings, speculations and the presidents’ personal opinions on the situation to defend his statement. Some examples he uses include, Japanese military power and mentality, saving American lives, and unconditional surrender. In short, because the use of the atomic bomb occurred, the Japanese military lost their lust to fight to the end, countless lives were saved, and Japan surrendered. Therefore, although many Japanese lives were lost in the conflict the right decision was made by Harry Truman to authorize the usage of the bombs.
One of, if not the most influential part, of allowing the bombs to drop is because of the mentality of the Japanese military and the pull they had in politics. As Maddox stated, “[t]he army, not the Foreign Office controlled the situation” (Maddox, pg. 286). Although Japan had an influential leader in regards to their emperor, the military wanted to and would have engaged in war until every defender had died. Generals realized this mentality after the fight at Okinawa where the soldiers fought to the end even though they knew they weren’t going to win. This was a deadly combination because there wasn’t much the U.S could do to stop that idealism except drop the bombs. If America could display the power it had then the army would understand they did not have a chance and fall back. Therefore, through this example it can be understood why Truman had used the bomb.
Another facet of Maddox’s argument is that by dropping the bomb hundreds of thousands of American lives were saved. As stated previously, the Japanese army had no intentions of giving up. Therefore, if this were true then an invasion of Japan would have led to even more casualties due to war, which no one wanted of course. Maddox stated that “[i]n his memoirs Truman claimed that using atomic bombs prevented n invasion that would have cost 500,000 American lives” (Maddox 282). Although this number is heavily debated, just in Kyushu alone there were 900,000 troops deployed. This battle alone could have cost the U.S around 400,000 troops. Truman needed to look out for his own country and his own army. Imagine if the...

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