Was it Wrong to Drop the Atom Bomb on Japan?

Today, on the 71st anniversary of the first atomic attack, that of the bombing of the city of Hiroshima, Japan, some argue that Truman was wrong to order that the Army Air Force undertake to have Little Boy tumble out of the bomb bay of the Enola Gay.

Most of the nation’s five star admirals and generals later went on record against the use of the A-bomb. Here is what the two top admirals in the Pacific had to say on its use:

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet stated in a public address given at the Washington Monument on October 5, 1945:

The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war.  . . . [Nimitz also stated: “The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. . . .”]

In a private 1946 letter to Walter Michels of the Association of Philadelphia Scientists, Nimitz observed that “the decision to employ the atomic bomb on Japanese cities was made on a level higher than that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946:

The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment. . . . It was a mistake to ever drop it. . . . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. . . . It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.

Professor of History at Notre Dame, Father Wilson Miscamble weighs in on the subject with the opinion that dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives — both American and Japanese.

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Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

4 responses to “Was it Wrong to Drop the Atom Bomb on Japan?”

  1. ErstO says :

    Thank you for posting this.

    Through the years I have argued these same points every time this debate renews, only to be shouted down by those that have never read a real history book and only focus on the revisionist, Howard Zinn comes to mind in that category.

    At least now I have a link to the good Father’s video to support the facts.

    • Incredulous1 says :

      Well, there are some basic facts that cloud the picture regardless of political spectrum, and it should be noted that I am a conservative US veteran. Notwithstanding that US Propaganda served as conventional wisdom for decades after the war, there are a number of factors that hastened the end of the war, and arguably the atomic bomb was just one of many and perhaps not even the main factor.

      The US was unprepared for the type of fighting they saw by Japan toward the end since even Japan knew they could no longer win. This was seem by many US planners as evidence that they would rather fight to the death of the last civilian standing rather than surrender. There were expectations that Japan would have its citizens fighting with crude weapons in an urban guerilla warfare after the bullets ran out, etc etc. Someone mention bamboo shivers would even be used. But this never was the case.

      Prior to the dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man, the House Council and civilian authorities in Japan were trying to figure out how to surrender to save civilian lives since the fire bombing of several major cities had already killed many multiples more than the atomic bombings. Foreign Minister killed himself because he couldn’t get the high command to negotiate a surrender and peace after the loss of Iwo Jima. He even lobbied for negotiating after the loss of the Philippines since they had not much air force and virtually no navy left.

      By the time of the Okinawa invasion by the US, Japan had almost no fuel left and almost no bullets left and 8.5 million people fled the big cities and their factory jobs to get away from the fire bombings which left Japan with no way to make war materials even if they did get any supply ships through – they did not.

      There was absolutely no appetite to continue the war prior to the twin atomic bombs already except on the part of a few generals not in touch with their own men or reality. They are the ones who should have killed themselves. This is in great contrast to what Hitler did in Germany even though Japanese fought more courageously during the earlier conflict. There is written proof, of which I would assume your professor has knowledge, That Hirohito was trying to arrange surrender at least two weeks before Hiroshima.

      But perhaps the best evidence is Hirohito’s remarks about the entrance of and attack by Russia in Manchuria on Japanese forces on the day after Hiroshima. Hirohito through the Council had been coordinating with Stalin to act as a broker of a peace plan with the US prior to this attack. Many academics think that not only did Truman drop the bombs as a message to Russia due to the Yalta exchange, but that Russia’s attack on Japan actually had more to do with the Japanese surrender timing than anything else. But the civilian authorities desire to surrender did exist long before Hiroshima and the navy’s leadership wanted to quit even before Operation Ten Ichigo – the last desperate sortie on Okinawa where Yamato was lost.

      So their point was that it was not necessary to use nuclear weapons to defeat Japan, nor did it save many lives since Okinawa was secured by then – and certainly not many Japanese lives since they were already fleeing and had no plans to fight on.

      I personally think we should have helped the Japanese civilian leadership remove their military leaders from power one way or the other but spare the civilian population and the ensuing post war instability which is finally just now catching up with us vis-à-vis China.

      • Dirk Pohlmann says :

        You are a honest man, incredulous1. I salute you for that. I am a german history buff and one of my professors at university (philosophy) was a german jesuit who survived Hiroshima less than 4km away from the center of the explosion. He explained the history of the of the two atomic bombs in detail to me, during several afternoons at his home. He was a conservative man too, but also a truly independent thinker, really independant (which is rare) with enormous knowledge. That was why I, as a left wing student, had the greatest respect for him. I have also interviewed one of the USAF cameramen sent to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to film the effects weeks after the explosions. He was a tough guy, but he said repeatedly: we should not have dropped the bombs. And we should never, for no reason in the world, do it again. He remebered the children vividly, rotting away alive. 95% of the victims were women, children and some old men.

  2. Dirk Pohlmann says :

    https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsFurthermore: the catholic history prof. in the video talks about the “japanese” not mentioning or understanding the role of the military in Japan, that fighting to death and destruction was the duty of a japanese soldier, but not the plan of the government, nor the duty for population, that an armageddon doomsday scenario for the nation was not part of the japanese ethics (my prof said: you have to be a fanatical nazi-german civilian to act like that. It is not japanese.) were very different from ours – and he seems to have no clue about that, he does not mention the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was no military target, but was spared to see the effects of a bomb on a functioning city and it´s population, that both the uranium cannon type bomb and the implosion type plutonium type were dropped to compare results, he omits if the topic was to end the war a bomb could have been demonstrated or dropped on a harbour with the threat of using it differently, if saving lives was the purpose of the bomb (this argument is really ridiculous, cynical and evil) he omits that the war was nearly over and the incredibly expensive and laborious Manhattan project (world record at that time) was in danger to run out of war-time before testing it´s products on the enemy, that the bomb was originally ment for Germany before nazi germany was able to build one (target: Mannheim/Ludwigshafen), which was the motive for many scientists, he omits that the results in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were studied by US doctors who did not help the patients, but simply noted the effects of the US-field experiment, he omits that Japan had tried to negotiate e.g. via the vatican with the USA, that Japan wanted to keep the emperor as sole condition, while the US reaction was “unconditional surrender or die”, although the emperor was kept when USA won the war and so on and so on.
    Very important: Is the morality of a decision really simply dependent to the end results of an action? Dropping the bomb was ok, because it ended the war with less casualties, which is the full argument I hear. Is poisenous gas ok too in such a case? Biological weapons? And if concentration camps would have ended the war, whould they too have been morally ok? Why are nuclear weapons ok, although they are very, very cruel, more so than chemical weapons and even affect future generations?
    Is it not simly so that nuclear weapons are declared ok simply because the military power of the USA and some other countries rests on them? If the USSR had used the bomb but not the USA, would that not be used as proof for the incredible brutal and inhumane nature of communism?
    Is it not true that nuclear weapons are sort of state terrorism threatened against civilians? Why is that not terrorism and why are defence ministers not put to jail for that?
    I think you have to deal with the reality that nuclear weapons are inherently unethical, and the use of them at the end of WW2 was a war crime – with enormous effects to this day.
    Defending the use might be necessary for “morale” reasons in the USA, but can not be justified with ethical reasoning.

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