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World War II And The Atomic Bomb

“The names Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known around the world – yet most people remain ignorant of the reality and the meaning of atomic destruction.” (Hiroshima 3) A controversy exists over the use of the atomic bomb to end World War II. Many people believe that the atom bomb should have been dropped. It reduced the number of casualties that took place. Also, it required much less time than an all-out invasion.

Atomic Bomb August 6th, 1945, 70,000 lives were ended in a matter of seconds. The United States had dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Today many argue over whether or not the US should have taken such a drastic measure. Was it entirely necessary that we use such a devastating weapon? Yes, it was. First, look at what was going on at the time the decision was made. The U.S had been fighting a massive war since 1941. Morale was low, and resources were at the same level as morale. However, each side continued to fight, and both were determined to win.

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Obviously, the best thing that could have possibly have happened would have been to bring the war to a quick end, with a minimum of casualties. “Those who dropped the first atomic bomb worked thereafter to demonstrate its destructive powers and to justify its use as a way of ending the war quickly so as to limit the number of combat casualties.” (Hiroshima 3)

What would have happened had the A-bomb not been used? The most obvious thing is that the war would have continued. U.S forces, therefore, would have had to invade the foreign island of Japan. Imagine the number of casualties that would have occurred if this invasion had taken place. Also, our forces would not only have to fight off the Japanese military, but they would have to defend themselves against the civilians of Japan as well. It was also a fact that the Japanese government had been equipping the commoners with any kind of weapon they could get their hands on. This means a Japanese citizen could have anything from a gun to a spear. And many unsuspecting soldiers might fall victim to a surprise spear attack! The death toll would be much greater, and an invasion would have taken a much longer period of time.

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The Japanese would have continued to fight the US with all of what they had; spears, guns, knives, whatever they could get their hands on, just as long as they continued to fight the enemy. As mentioned before, it is a fact that some civilians had been ready to fight our military with spears! What made it possible that the Japanese would resort to using spears? Why wouldn’t they use guns or other weapons? Well, the truth was, the government just didn’t have the resources to give out a gun to every citizen. “…the Japanese military was not in much of a position to fight successfully…” (Could Dropping 1) US naval blockades are one of the major reasons that Japan was so low on resources as well as a main argument against the decision to drop the bomb.

Japan obviously was very low on resources. Japanese civilians were ready to die with spears in their hands; surely the military would do the same. Besides, the Japanese military did still have some resources to go on. So again I must bring out the fact that Japan could have continued to fight, and they would have. And I’m sure anyone can realize what would happen if the war continued, more deaths. “It was better to risk losing the crew than risk losing all the people on the island.” (Day 2)

Admiral William Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt and President Truman, wrote, “By the beginning of September 1944, Japan was almost completely defeated through a practically complete sea and air blockade.” If that was true, how could they have continued to fight and rack up enemy kills? If the Chief of Staff to the President figured they would soon surrender around September 1944, why were they still fighting almost a year later? And how can we be so sure that any other estimates on when the war would end would be correct? Basically, we can’t. For all anyone knows, Japan would have kept fighting.

It was the atomic bomb that forced Japan to surrender and in turn saved hundreds of thousands of lives. “Planners of the invasion assured that it would require a full year, to November 1946, for the Japanese to be sufficiently worn down by the land combat attrition to surrender.” (The Atomic Bomb 61) How can anyone be so sure that Japan would continue to fight? No one can say exactly what would have happened, because let’s face it, no one really knows. It’s possible Japan was just about to surrender, but most evidence would not agree with that statement.

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Most people have heard of a group of men called the Kamikazes. Kamikazes were “suicide” pilots. They would load an airplane up with explosives and try to nose-dive it into an enemy target. Think about what must be on this pilot’s mind. Imagine the undying love he must have for his country. He would fight until the end, for his emperor and his country. The scary thing about this is the majority of the Japanese military thought this way. The fact that the enemy is ready to die so long as you die with him is not something a soldier wants to think about before going into battle.

Once more I must bring into the picture the fact that a longer war means more deaths, and it appears that a longer war is exactly what Japan had in mind. “…One million [additional] American casualties was the expected price.” (The Atomic Bomb 61) Most opponents of the bomb say that it was immoral to drop the bomb on such targets as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but you cannot deny the fact that the major manufacturing of wartime products was being conducted here. Hiroshima and Nagasaki may not have been the morally sound places to drop such a high-risk bomb, due to the density of the population; however, it is still a belief that the Atomic Bomb was necessary to end the war. Also, leaflets and warnings had been issued to the people of those cities warning them of an attack.

Some say that the United States should have warned what kind of attack it was going to be. This however seems ridiculous. It shouldn’t matter what kind of warning is given, a threat under such conditions should be taken seriously, and the citizens should have evacuated. One might also point out the fact, however brutal this may seem, that ever since Sherman’s March to the Sea of the American Civil War, which was a turning point in modern warfare, civilian population centers are also considered fair game to the military.

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The moral issue of dropping an atomic bomb is very controversial. Especially since radiation is a major side effect of such a weapon. On the other hand, fire-bombings of other Japanese cities had left other civilians equally scarred. If one wanted to argue the issue of radiation as a side effect of the atomic bombing, they would have to find a way to argue the side effects of bombing altogether. Is it immoral to use a bomb? No, it may not be very nice, but it’s not immoral. These are the kinds of things that happen in war, however unfortunate they are.

Despite other arguments, the Atomic Bomb was a necessity. Without it, the number of men that would have died on both sides far surpasses that of the number that was killed in the droppings of both Atomic Bombs. Let’s face it, the goal of waging war is a victory with minimum losses on one’s own side, and if possible a minimum amount of losses on the enemy’s side. The Atomic Bomb cut losses to a minimum on both sides and drew war to an end quickly. It was a military necessity.

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