The Atomic Bomb In World War Ii Essay

This essay has a total of 1931 words and 7 pages.

The Atomic Bomb In World War Ii

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
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