Was the Use of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Truman’s Best Option to End World War Ii
The goal of the investigation is to determine whether the use of nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by U. S. President Truman was the best option to end World War II. The investigation will begin by researching other options available to President Truman, which were debated during the war. Then Truman’s options will be analysed for limitations, such as real-life practicality, as well as reliability of the source which presented the options.
Some of the issues which will be examined in this investigation are why both the naval blockade and continued bombing was not an option and why the nuclear bomb was the logical choice over an invasion. Two sources that will be evaluated due to their large amount of usable information and relevant data are Hiroshima and Nagasaki-Fire from the Sky and an article from the Kemble Kollection found at http://www.
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mikekemble. com/ww2/downfall. html entitled Why America Was Right To Drop The Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima ; Nagasaki, both of which will be analyzed in part C for validity and limitations.
Word Count: 173 Part B: Summary of Evidence The war for the United States has gone on for four years; public opinion was starting to decay. When the European theatre was still seeing bloodshed the average civilian could follow along because the locations of Europe were well known to the average American. The Pacific theatre was different in this regard; civilians had no concept of how or where the war was being fought, it is not a huge surprise it was a nuisance to the average person.
However that’s not all, advertisers were marketing new and wondrous products that would come after the war ended, along with rationing and the increasing death toll that would reach over three hundred thousand lives before the war was done. With the recent defeat of the Nazis most of the world believed that the war was won; Japan would easily be shoved aside and the war was now a distant annoyance preventing soldiers from returning home and holding back new items from consumers.
Because of the pressuring demands of public opinion, President Truman had to find a way to end the war, quickly and cleanly, or he would face the end of public support. Options such as a great naval siege of the Japanese main islands and continued bombing of Japanese cities were considered useless by American Generals, they thought of it as “choking, but not killing”. Preparations and planning begun on what would have been the largest invasion of all time, code named ‘Operation Downfall’ it would be an amphibious invasion of the Japanese islands involving millions of American soldiers and marines.
The first invasion of Operation Downfall was named Operation Olympic and was chosen to arrive on the southern beach on the island Kyushu. However, a new report on enemy troop strength on the island, specifically the southern edge, indicated that the Japanese were quickly reinforcing the southern side of the island and that troop strength increased from approximately eight thousand to over two hundred and six thousand. The Japanese had figured out what the American military was planning. To make matters worse the Japanese government ordered civilians to take up arms and to defend to the death.
With these two issues arriving the estimated death toll arrived at up to a million. With these horrifying odds, the whole goal of Operation Downfall to produce a quick surrender was now even in debate, the fighting on the Japanese Islands may last a very long time. However with a naval siege or B-29 bombing possibly dragging on for years the invasion was still the only considered option. However even the land invasion could cause long term issues; if Japan wasn’t defeated quickly the Soviet Union may also invade setting up even more tension.
Thankfully for the United States government, the Manhattan project succeeded in producing the world’s first nuclear bomb, and on August 6th 1945 atomic bomb ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima. Over eighty thousand people died in the first few seconds, yet the Japanese still refused to surrender on American terms. It took a second nuclear bomb, ‘Fat Man’, being dropped on Nagasaki before they surrendered. Word Count 517 Part C: Evaluation of Sources The two sources of evidence to be critically examined are Hiroshima and Nagasaki-Fire from the Sky by Andrew Langley and The Kemble Kollection by Mike Kemble.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki-Fire in the Sky is a novel of the events leading up to and repercussions that followed the dropping of the two nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Published in 2006, and written by accomplished historical author; Andrew Langley. One thing to note about Andrew Langley is that he specializes in writing children’s novels. Although that fact doesn’t compromise the truth behind the writings, it does however indicate that the novel is not as in-depth as other sources could be, instead providing a broad overview of the events.
However despite being oriented towards children it does not hold off on the cruel hard facts such as eighty thousand dead in the blast alone. Although the novel is considered a secondary source it does use real quotes from thoughts of the men dropping the bomb, people involved in making the bomb and from the people being bombed, as well as numerous real pictures. Andrew Langley, using the pictures and the narration makes it very clear that everyone involved with the bomb regretted it –a clear bias, which brings onto the topic of limitations.
The novel seems more oriented to educate children on the horror of nuclear war, rather than to educate on the reasons why it was chosen. In fact it does not explore other possibilities that were considered by generals involved and by President Truman himself. The reader would come out of it believing that the only plan was to use the terrible bomb, when in reality it was almost not considered. The second source to be evaluated is the Kemble Kollection, here author of On a Sailors Grave (No Roses Grow); Mike Kemble writes about a large variety of different aspects to do with World War II.
Mike Kemble makes it clear on his main page that his articles are ideal for education and referencing. The article of particular interest for this assignment is titled U. S. Plans to Invade Japan in World War 2. Why America Was Right to Drop the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima ; Nagasaki. In this article Mike Kemble details operation Downfall, Olympic and numerous other options that were considered by President Truman’s military advisors and generals at the time, as well as the inevitable result of using the atomic bomb. His site is very popular with over 1. 3 million views and all his articles include references to external sites and sources.
One thing to question is who Mike Kemble actually is; his site does not mention anything about his credentials or any education he may have. Further research says he’s a retired ex-army NCO now working for Legion Security, part of the Royal British Legion. When it comes to limitations on his work, there are very few. Besides some form issues such as poor in-article referencing there really isn’t that much to say he covers most aspects of a topic and explains the reasons for the decisions made. One possible limitation for the particular article used is that most of the ources he references in his collection are not primary ones; however, it is not a huge issue. Word Count 545 Part D: Analysis President Truman, like all presidents, was bound by the demands of the public; they wanted a quick end to the war for numerous reasons. However that statement alone is not necessarily the case, an article for a newspaper written by Admiral William V. Pratt makes it clear that there was another option to invasion and the bomb, a simple navy war of attrition, one with few casualties that will simply last longer a slow and steady sort of approach.
Of course at this point there are clear lines as to who supports what, each branch of military supporting its own particular route to victory. Then there’s the bomb itself, today there is still debate as to whether it was the morally sound way of ending the war. Historian Ralph Raico (a senior scholar of the Mises Institute) argues the what-if scenario. He points to the fact that if the Nazis used an atomic bomb, and the allies still won, then the use of the weapon would be considered a war crime and the Nazis would be hanged –not that they weren’t already.
That is undoubtedly true, however an article written by Matthew Seligmann (reader in history at the University of Northampton, and author of Does Peace Lead to War? ) for The Guardian argues the opposite, he states that Japanese controlled territory was suffering from starvation and that four hundred thousand Asians died each month, meaning that the use of the bomb was the morally right thing to do. For the invasion the range of casualties is extremely broad, anywhere between a million to two hundred thousand. Of course each number has its own uses especially if the three military branches were each striving to be the one that ended the war.
Former army-man and author Mike Kemble argues that Japan’s population would have been able to survive a navy siege, using its farms and that the bombing could only damage the cities. His main support for this argument is that over half of Japan’s population was in rural areas and even within cities residents often had gardens for fruit and vegetables, often even wheat. With public support for the war slowly dying, Truman had to find a way to quickly end the war. Both a naval blockade and continued bombing were considered ineffective.
The only viable solution besides the atomic bomb is the invasion; however with potential for a million casualties and the Soviet Union invading Japan, it would have simply not been fast enough. The end of the war was a question of speed, what would force the Japanese to quit, and what would do it the fastest. The fact that two of Japan’s cities had to be destroyed is further proof that carpet bombing, blockades or endless city combat would not have brought the war to a close. President Truman’s best option was to use the two atomic bombs; Fat Man, and Little Boy. Word Count 486 Part E: Conclusion
Timing was key for President Truman; all the options presented to him would take too long to end the war and would only bring further complications. The only option he had was to use the two atomic bombs to force the surrender of Japan. Andrew Langley’s book Hiroshima and Nagasaki –Fire from the Sky, because it is directed at the younger audience, it provides an excellently summarized view of the events leading up to the droppings of the atomic bombs. Andrew Langley himself is a well experienced author with plenty of publications and the book from which this investigation takes evidence is filled with primary sources.
The bias against the bombs is due to the nature the bombs played in the Cold War, not against the use of the bombs themselves. The Kemble Collection, by Mike Kemble goes in-depth at answering the whys of history, not documenting the flow of history itself but looking at the other options of the times. His work provided some of the greatest plethora of knowledge on the different options Truman faced, and despite the sources that Kemble uses being mostly secondary, his sources are plenty and well founded, and he makes a point of making it well referenced for the sake of education.
List of Sources
- “The Decision to Use the Bomb”, Book Mice. Net. December 2008.
- [online] http://www. bookmice. net/darkchilde/japan/atomic. html Seligmann, Matthew.
- “The alternatives to bombing Hiroshima were not morally superior”. Guardian. Friday 15 August 2008. Guardian News and Media Limited 2009.
- [online] www. guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/15/nuclear.japan Langley, Andrew. Hiroshima and Nagasaki