Moral Dilemma In History: The Atom Bomb

1001 words - 5 pages

On August 6, 1945, the B-27 superfortress, the Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic weapon on Hiroshima. Two days later, the B-29 bomber, the Bockscar, dropped the second and final atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered days later on September 2nd, 1945. Since the days of the bombings, there has been much debate about whether use of the the atomic bombs was even necessary to end the war. Even President Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson grappled with its necessity even after they authorized its use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! There are also claims that Truman had other viable alternatives to the bomb that may have prevented the unprecedented destruction wrought by the bomb. Despite ...view middle of the document...

The Japanese military even recruited civilians to fight the invaders with sharpened bamboo spears. According to Kennedy Hickman’s Battle of Iwo Jima, 12,520 Americans and 110,071 Japanese soldiers were killed. There were also 142,058 civilian casualties. According to the New York Times, with that Iwo Jima in mind, on June 18th 1945, Truman and his generals discussed a 35% casualty rate for 775,000 troops in the invasion force. According to Authentic History, General MacArthur’s staff estimated that there would be 23,000 American Casualties if the invasion was to take place. Admiral Nimitz estimated that there would be 49,000 casualties and 5000 of them would be from kamikaze attacks. According to Wilson Miscamble’s The Most Controversial Decision, as many as 250,000 people, mostly Asians, would have died each month beyond 1945 (pg. 97). All in all, the invasion of Japan by U.S forces would have been far bloodier than the use of the atomic bomb, estimates of American casualties ranged from 23,000 to 49,000. Japanese casualties would have been far worse; Secretary Stimson claimed that 5 million Japanese lives were saved by the bomb.
The second alternative to the bombing was the continuation of conventional bombing. According to The Tokyo Fire Raids, the objective of the bombings was to turn the city into ashes by firestorm via incendiary bombing. The Allies first used this tactic in Hamburg, Germany. The raid on that city started many fires which combined into one massive self-sustaining blaze. The fires lit in Tokyo by the bombings could be seen 150 miles away. Seventeen square miles of the city were destroyed. As many as 80,000 to 200,000 people died from the bombings, which was much greater than the casualties wrought by the atomic bomb. A French reporter in Tokyo wrote, “Flames from a distant cluster of houses would suddenly spring up close at hand, traveling at the speed of a forest fire. Then...

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