Was atom-bombing Japan in WWII justified?

ashiq_hayat19 asked this question on 7/13/2000:

Q.America bombarded atomic bomb on Japan.Was it a good activity or not?explain.

npscott gave this response on 7/13/2000:

I think the decision of President Harry Truman to use the Atomic Bomb to end World War II in the Pacific Theater was one of the most fateful decisions ever made in mankind's history.

To answer your question to the point: Killing people is never a good activity.

There are, however, various philosophic ways to justify the bombing.

One American General is frequently quoted as saying, "Wars do not increased death because death is 100% in every generation."

While true, that view overlooks the lives that never had a chance to be lived out to their natural conclusion, absent war. It overlooks the unborn millions, caused by the death of a future parent.

The particular justification for dropping the Atom Bomb (the one President Truman gave) was that the military estimates of American Casualities would be over 1,000,000 during an invasion of Japan. Dropping the bomb saved these American's lives, and those of many Japanese, Truman correctly argued.

War causes man to be confronted with such terrible decisions.

The truth of the matter is that the Atom Bomb project had taken on a life of its own. Once underway, I doubt any one man could have stopped its development, here or elsewhere. [But, it did accelerate it's development and deployment].

The momentum of the Manhattan project was such, that had Truman decided to postpone it's use, he very likely would have been ignored.

For an responsible treatment of the events leading to Truman's decision, read David McCullough's award winning biography of Truman, "Truman, Simon & Schuster, 1992".

Truman wrote in his diary, after making his decision,

"This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimpson, to use it so that military objective and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.

"Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo, were the Imperial Palace had been spared thus far'.

He [Simpson] and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one [Note: that didn't happen.] and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them a chance.

"It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing every discovered, but it can be made useful." p. 444.

The genie was let out of the bottle with that decison, and no human knows how to coax it back into the bottle, and cork it permanently.

The Atomic Bomb, now a Hydrogen Bomb with power exceeding that of the first one dropped by at least 20 times, has a lure to it.

The lure is power. And with poor mankind in charge of it of the secret of nuclear chain reaction, it gives him the illusion the power in that reaction, is an extension of himself.

As Alister Cooke put it, the Atomic Bomb possesses "an unholy beauty".

The War with Japan did end sooner--there can be no argument about this--because of the Atomic bomb.

An economy of lives was saved in exhange for an unknown number of lives that might be taken with it down the road.

We have to deal with it.

The only way to deal with it, to my mind, is to work to reduce to zero all nucular stockpiles around the world.

If mankind can develop the science for such a bomb, I don't see why the Science of Behavorial Science cannot supply us with the insight to enable the objective of total nuclear disarment.

To enable us all to see that it is in our interests of survial to discard our nuclear stockpile, and that survial--in the possession of it--is an illusion.

When Cherynobel, (the Russian Nuclear Power Plant) went haywire in 1985 or 86, the relatively small fallout caused troubles all over Europe. Imagine the problem one hydrogen bomb can cause-- let alone the exhange of thousands now in US and Russian arsenals.

This doesn't count the Chinese, and Indian and Paskistani, and French, and Great Britian, and Israeli (did I leave anyone out?) nucular arsenals.
It does not account for the attempted nucular arsenals of Iraq and North Korea.

In the late 1800's a single volcano erupted somewhere in the Pacific. The cloud of ashes and dust it spewed obscured sunlight the world over-- for over a year. That year came to be know as "the year without a summer."

The fallout of radioactive dust from pulverized buildings, etc. of one Hydrogen Bomb could produce a similar effect. The exchange of only ten could produce a Nuclear Winter that no living creature could survive.

This knowledge has stayed the hand of a nuclear exhange several times in our short history since its development. As Churchill put it, "Survival has become the study twin of terror".

But there are some minds, perhaps Sadam's of Iraq, which would not be troubled by such considerations.

It began with the decision to drop the bomb on Japan. Was it a good activity?

JesseGordon responded:

... [Pearl Harbor Day in Japan]

ashiq_hayat19 asked this question on 7/13/2000:

Q.America bombarded atomic bomb on Japan.Was it a good activity or not?explain.

stevehaddock gave this response on 7/13/2000:

I have to come down on the "bad" side.

At the time, things looked bad for the Americans in the Japanese theatre. However, the Japanese internal situation was deteriorating rapidly. Although the army was willing to sacrifice the entire population of Japan, the civilian leadership thought the army incredibly short sighted and supported suing for peace.

However, the Japanese civilian leadership were too vague for their own good. In response to American surrender demands, the Japanese leadership responded with a term that had no exact translation and was unique to Japanese culture. It was probably meant in its common sense - when a Japanese person finds an offer unacceptable, he simply won't respond to it - a "silent rejection". Any Japanese person understands this cultural impasse and simply makes a better offer. However, the same term can also mean "silent contempt", meaning that the offer was being ignored as beneath their dignity. Truman accepted the latter explanation and felt the Japanese were unwilling to surrender.

Surprisingly, the dropping of the bombs had very little effect on the position of the Japanese military! Their intelligence was very good and they realized that the Americans only had the two bombs that they had already dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the civilian government's pleas grew stronger and the Emperor, who had up until that point accepted the advice of the military, turned against them and gave them a direct order to surrender.

While a few more months would probably not have cost a lot of American or Japanese lives (the Japanese had no food, ammunition or supplies to speak of, and no navy at all to resist an American invasion), Truman was under time pressure to keep the Russians out. Stalin had already promissed to commit forces to the battle. However, if they had done so, the Japanese, like many Chinese before them, probably would have realized that surrendering to the Americans would get them a better deal, as it probably did.

npscott gave this follow-up answer on 7/13/2000:

Post Script:

Truman was one of the most decent men ever to lead a country. His statement in his diary about the warning to be given ("we will have given them a chance") shows his decency, absent in those who chose the attack on Pearl Harbor without warning.

Nevertheless it is a rationalization. No such weapon had ever existed, and its power could not be conceived by those not aware of the things learned during its development.

Given the military culture in Japan at the time, where surrender was conisdered a disgrace, and the lust of conquest which has propelled the Japanese war machine, Truman was correct in his assessment that a warning would not work.

War is the culprit.

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