Were the Americans justified in dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945? The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945 by the Americans is a very controversial issue with no definite answer. Both sides of the issue have very justifiable arguments. Reasons for dropping the bomb include the fact that Truman’s options were limited at this point in the war, that the bomb did have the desired outcome of Japans surrender and that the majority of reasons America had for dropping the bomb are justifiable.
On the other hand, the atomic bomb was complete new technology and there is no way that Japan could have possibly been ready for it and for that reason the dropping of the atomic bomb is very much morally and ethically wrong. It is also important to consider that two bombs were dropped, both with different motivations and it is quite possible that while one is justifiable, the other is not. There were many reasons why America would have chosen to drop the bomb and the majority can be justified. Before the atomic bomb was dropped, America was nearing the end of the war.
They had made the Potsdam declaration requesting Japans surrender and at this point had the Japanese at a very weak position. At a similar time, the Americans had completed the development of the Atomic bomb or Project Manhattan that, after Germany surrendered, had no other competition. A lot money had been put into the development of the bomb and at this point, Truman’s options were limited. Invasion was out of the question due to the Japanese’s strong military and patriotic values: The continuation of conventional bombings and a naval blockade were also considered but deemed unsuitable.
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The negation of surrender had been tried with the ‘Potsdam Declaration’ and had failed. It is important to point out that by ignoring the declaration; the Japanese in effect gave their acceptance of the Americans threats of ‘prompt and utter destruction. ’ America and Britain were both aware that the development of the bomb meant they no longer relied on the allied troops from Russia, and with the fear of communism, this was a motivation for the dropping of the bomb: ‘It is quite clear that the US do not at the present time desire Russian participation in the war against Japan’ . There was also the question of time.
The atomic bomb was by far the quickest way that America could see for the ending of the war, and they were eager to end the war as before long, Russia would become involved making a heavier casualty rate inevitable. America were also a very powerful country now they had the development of the Atomic Bomb, it would have been a waste to not be able to show their true power and the true destruction they could use through the bomb. There is also the point that the Americans were looking for revenge against the Japanese, as they had injured and killed many American soldiers, and even more to come, had the Americans not taken quick action.
Looking back at the dropping of the bomb, it is possible to say that it was a method of prevention in many different circumstances. Firstly, the dropping of the bomb meant that the war would be over: ‘The atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended World War II. There can be no doubt of that. ’  It is possible that leaving the war longer could have resulted in a much worse fatality rate for both Japan and America. Also, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima effectively decided the use of atomic technology for weapons for the future.
Before the dropping of the bomb, people had no idea of the severity and power of atomic weaponry and therefore, the argument can be made that the dropping of the atomic bomb prevented a lot more serious cases that could have happened say the power of atomic bombs was not explored at this time. The dropping of the atomic bomb caused great loss of life, and there are many arguments suggesting the dropping of the bomb was both morally and ethically wrong. There is no way that the Japanese could have been prepared for the dropping of the atomic bomb as the world had never witnessed something like the bomb before.
The Americans had the opportunity of demonstrating the power of the bomb on a deserted area and showing the Japanese what they were facing. This was proposed by a number of American scientists, but rejected by the Military Leaders: ‘we did not think exploding one of these things as a firecracker over a desert was likely to be impressive. ’ There was the option of dropping the bomb on purely a military target, yet the Americans chose a target that not only affected Japans military, but took the lives of many civilians. The Americans were always slightly racist towards the
Japanese or ‘colored people’ and this could easily have been secret motivation for the dropping of such a severe form of bomb. There is also the consideration of the two different bombs. The American military leaders would have been completely aware of the severity of damage of atomic bombs after Little Boy was dropped yet they still went on to drop Fat Man. It is possible that while the first bomb could be excusable, the dropping of a second, in full knowledge of the damage that it would cause, is not only unnecessary but definitely morally incorrect. It is also important to consider the Truman’s alternatives once again.
From the American’s point of view, Truman’s options were very limited, but peace could have been found through the Japanese and the Soviet Union, a pathway which the President was aware of but didn’t really explore. It can also be pointed out that the Potsdam declaration was a very harsh document, especially on a country with such strong patriotic values. Had the declaration not requested ‘unconditional surrender’ and had in fact let Japan keep some of their imperial rule, they could have been more likely to accept the declaration. Japan was already very vulnerable when America chose to drop the bomb.
In reality, it was only a matter of time before Japan would have needed to surrender anyway. America knew that Japan would need to surrender soon as they were unable to import or export goods: ‘it was quite logical to hope and expect that with the proper kind of warning the Japanese would have made peace’.  It really was only a matter of time before Japan would have had to surrender and America knew that. It is possible that the Americans were not just interested in the ending of the war, but had other reasons such as racial discrimination, revenge and greed for power to drop the two atomic bombs.
In my opinion, the Americans have enough reasons to justify the dropping of the bomb. They gave the Japanese sufficient warning of their plan through the Potsdam declaration and it was the Japanese’s mistake to ignore this. They also completed the desired outcome with Japan’s surrender. For these reasons America can justify their reasons for dropping the bomb. However, being able to justify something does not mean it is necessarily the best thing to do, and I think that it was morally incorrect to make the Japanese uffer to the extent that they did considering that the war was almost over. The fact that America chose to drop two bombs changes my opinion significantly as well. The first bomb can be looked with the idea that America was not aware of the damage they could cause, however a second bomb was cruel and inexcusable. The Americans were after more than just the end of the war, they wanted the Japanese to feel their power and to have revenge: ‘In being first to use it we had developed ethical standards common to barbarians in the dark ages.  The bomb however has benefitted the world in the way that it has prevented anything like the atomic bomb disaster from occurring again, and the use of this technology earlier on could easily have prevented a later, more severe disaster. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima can be justified and looked at as a mistake that possibly had many benefits. The dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki was an example of the American’s greed for power and race driven revenge. In conclusion, I think that America had very strong reasons for dropping the bomb, some of which are valid and some of which are not.
This said they should not have dropped it as they knew the effect that this bomb was going to have on Japan, especially when Japan was so unprepared, and there would have been much more appropriate ways of ending the war. -----------------------  Lewis, Robert AGORA, Vol. 25, No 1, 1990, HTAV, Source 9, page 29  Lewis, Robert AGORA Vol. 25, No 2, 1990, HTAV, Source 22, page 19  Lewis, Robert AGORA, Vol. 25, No 1, 1990, HTAV, page 19  Lewis, Robert AGORA Vol. 25, No 2, 1990, HTAV, Source 16, page 14  Lewis, Robert AGORA, Vol. 25, No 1, 1990, HTAV, Source 9, page 29  Ibid page 34, source 14  Ibid page 19
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