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The Decision To Drop The Atomic Bomb

1428 words - 6 pages

On July sixteenth 1945 a cloud of smoke rose up above the desert in NewMexico. It was less than a month later when that same cloud of smoke rose up above themurdered bodies of at least 78,000 Japanese in the city of Hiroshima. Three days later atleast 38,000 more were killed in the city of Nagasaki by the same deadly bomb and againthe same ominous cloud of mushroom-like smoke arose. The dropping of these ruinousbombs led to the almost unconditional surrender of the Japanese. The question thatplagued the world was, "did we have to drop the bombs?". Was Truman right in hisdecision to drop a weapon with inconceivable power on two cities inhabited mostly bycivilians?In 1938 the United States got word that the Germans were producing thetechnology for an atomic bomb. We then started our own research project on nuclearweapons, its code name was "The Manhattan District (project)." The Manhattan Districtreceived heavy government funding after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the topscientists in America worked on this project to develop the first atomic bomb. MajorGeneral Leslie Groves directed the Manhattan Project. J. Robert Oppenheimer, aphysicist, headed the making and testing of the bomb in New Mexico. It was when thebomb was tested on July sixteenth 1945, that the United States of America realized thegreat power they had in hand.Many of the scientists who worked on or knew about the ManhattanProject did not approve the use of the weapon without a demonstration or warning theenemy about its power. Dr. Leo Szilard, who once advised Roosevelt on the possibility ofan atomic bomb, now advised Roosevelt against dropping the bomb. Szilard wantedRoosevelt to use an alternative method, or at least give Japan a warning of destructiveweapon before it was used. Dr. Szilard wrote numerous letters (with the signatures ofrespected scientists) to warn President Roosevelt and Truman, but these letters were kept from the Presidents by Major General Groves. Groves also failed to deliver letters from the Oak Ridge and eighteen Chicago scientists warning Truman about the bomb. The scientists from Chicago wrote that they recommend that the atomic bomb be dropped only if the following conditions were met:1. Opportunity had been given to the Japanese to surrender on terms assuring themthe possibility of a peaceful development in their homeland.2. Convincing warnings have been given that a refusal to surrender will be followedby the use of a new weapon.3. Responsibility for the use of the atomic bombs is with our allies.(Bernstein 19)Truman decided to drop the bomb because he felt it was the quickest wayto end the war with the least amount of American losses. Truman said anywhere from ahalf a million to a million lives would be lost if we led a ground invasion first on Japan'sisland of Kyushu and then the rest of Japan. It has been proved that the Joint Wars PlansCommittee figured that about 40,000 Americans would die if we led an attack on Kyushu.The Committee predicted...

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