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A Choice That Will Change The World

1794 words - 8 pages

Never in U.S. History has the fate of millions laid in the hands of one man, President Harry S. Truman. Truman became president after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April, 1945. This shift into presidency left Truman with the choice to use atomic weaponry for the first time in human history. Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs depends on scenarios provided by the Secretary of War Henry Stimson and the Secretary of State James Byrnes. Both secretaries have substantial justifications for their arguments in which either decision possesses implications that will change the status of the war and the world. While Truman’s decision will be elaborated on at the end of this piece it is beneficial to establish an appropriate standpoint for Truman. Ultimately, Truman’s choice to utilize an atomic bomb is up to him. Nonetheless, it is justifiable to claim that implementing an atomic bomb against Japan is a suitable decision because there is a higher probability of saving more military and civilian lives than a full-scale invasion.
One side of the discussion about atomic weapons comes from The Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Stimson is adamant about his position and Truman takes his opinions seriously. To convince Truman, Stimson argues that a negotiated surrender should be sought after since the war is nearing its end. The result would have Emperor Hirohito left as a symbolic head of state with the U.S. adopting full political power. Stimson says this will be more acceptable to the Japanese people because the civilians view Hirohito as a spiritual leader. Stimson also points out there is an increasing tension between the imperial army, which has no intention of surrendering, and the Japanese civilian population. An example of this can be seen at the Battle of Saipan in 1944. During this battle many civilians jumped off of cliffs, to their deaths, rather than surrender to American soldiers. However, Richard Rhodes states in his book The Making of the Atomic Bomb that “Not all the dead had volunteered their sacrifice; many had been rallied, pushed or shot by Japanese soldiers” (Rhodes, 556). The comment by Rhodes indicates that there were eye witnesses viewing the imperial army threatening citizens at gunpoint to jump off the cliffs. This suggests that the civilians are victims of the imperial army and perhaps the civilians are starting to resist them. This also implies that the civilians are more likely to agree with a surrender as long as Hirohito is left as their ruler.
Another stance for Stimson’s is for the U.S. to not detonate an atomic bomb on Japan because it will lead to an arms race and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Stimson’s reasoning comes from the idea that the Soviet Union will produce atomic weapons if they the U.S. utilizing them. The Soviets will essentially be creating atomic bombs for their own protection since tension already exists between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This tension is observable at the Potsdam...

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