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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2 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.

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