Term Paper on Atomic Bomb

This essay has a total of 1923 words and 12 pages.


Atomic Bomb




The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the end to the world's largest armed
conflict. Many debates have surfaced over the

ethics of such an attack. The bomb itself caused massive amounts of casualties while the
unknown effects of radiation caused many more deaths

amongst the survivors of the blast. Despite the ghastly effects of such a weapon, it
offered the best choice for a quick and easy defeat of Japan.

President Truman, who authorized the use of the atomic bomb, made a wise decision under
the circumstances of the war. The Japanese refusal to

surrender, the massive amount of allied casualties involved in invading the Japanese
mainland and the ineffectuality of a military blockade in

forcing Japan to surrender made the bomb a necessary last resort.

There were several conventional methods that were suggested to bring Japan to its knees.
These included a naval blockade, an extensive aerial

bombardment or an invasion of the island of Japan.

Japan posed little or no offensive threat to American forces. Despite this fact the
Japanese were the most tenacious and driven of Americas foes

throughout the war. The battles for Okinawa, Wake and Guam all were ample testament to the
Japanese willingness to die in the face of

overwhelming odds. The kamikaze was a perfect example of the Japanese battle attitude.
Japanese pilots would strap themselves into planes laden

with explosives and fly them into American ships. By the war's conclusion the Japanese
kamikaze attacks had sunk 3 aircraft carriers damaged

285 craft and sunk a total of 34. The Japanese also did well in increasing support for the
war effort. "Both scientist and publicists were in fact

powerful instruments inflaming popular hatred against the democratic countries and in
regimenting the people into blindly supporting the war of

aggrandizement." (p.100) This resolve would only have been strengthened had American and
Russian forces tried to invade Japan. This almost

suicidal type of fighting would have resulted in a tremendous amount of casualties for
both sides. American casualties alone were projected at

500,000. The amount of deaths caused by an invasion would have easily dwarfed those of the atomic bombings.

Air power offered American forces a method of remaining relatively unscathed against the
fanatical Japanese military while laying waste to entire

cities. This was possible because while Japanese ground forces remained strong, air
defenses had been severely weakened. This gave American

bombers free reign over the skies of Japan. American bombing raids over Japan were
inflicting massive amounts of casualties and causing

tremendous damage to Japanese cities. In fact the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki
was not as devastating as conventional bombing

raids over Tokyo or to previous bombing raids over European cities, most notably Dresden.
"In March, 1945, our Air Force had launched the

first incendiary raid on the Tokyo area. In this raid more damage was done and more
casualties were inflicted than was the case at Hiroshima."

(p.99) Therefore it is very plausible that had the atomic weapons not been dropped over
Hiroshima and Nagasaki the number of conventional

bombings casualties of the continued air raids would have been much greater than those of the atomic bombings.

The last credible strategy that would force Japan to surrender would be a naval blockade.
This would involve the Navy patrolling the waters

around Japan and stopping any supplies from getting through. Japan had sufficient military
supplies to fight off an American invasion despite a

blockade. This meant that if the blockade were to be successful the Japanese would have to
be starved into surrendering. The Japanese mainland

could not produce enough food to sustain its massive population for very long. Had a
blockade been attempted, any remaining food supplies

would have been allocated to the military forces leaving the civilian population to
starve. This would have lead to a massive amount of deaths

due to starvation amongst the civilian population. This strategy would have lead only to
the death of civilians and not weakened the Japanese

military or brought Japan closer to surrender.

The side effects of atomic weaponry had not been discovered at the time that Truman gave
the order to drop the bomb over Hiroshima. Scientist

and military personnel who knew about the atomic bomb were not aware of its radiation side
effects. Therefore President Truman was also

unaware of these effects when he made the decision to drop the bombs. This is very
important because the atomic bomb was seen just as a really,

really big conventional bomb. With the information that Truman had been given, dropping an
atomic bomb was much like a conventional

bombing raid. The atomic bomb provided tactical advantages in addition to its awesome
political power. "But the atomic bomb was more than a

weapon of terrible destruction; it was a psychological weapon." (p.99) Only one plane
needed to be fuelled, crewed and maintained. The risk of

being shot down was drastically lower that of a squadron of planes needed to wreak the
same amount of havoc. We now know of the deadly

lasting effects of atomic weaponry, but these side effects were unheard of during the war.
To Truman in the military aspect the atomic bomb was

no different than ordering a squadron of bombers to level Hiroshima with firebombs. It
must be stressed that to Truman the bomb did not fall into

the military taboo of chemical weapons or poising wells, but instead appeared to be a very powerful conventional bomb.

Before the bombs had been dropped the Japanese government was at a standstill over matters
of peace. The roughly equal civilian and military

parties were locked in a struggle over surrender. The only way in which surrender could be
achieved is if a consensus could be achieved amongst

the parties. The military leaders refused to back down, unwilling to accept defeat and
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