Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki


Back on August 6, 1945, the USA dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Act two was a few days later when we did the same thing to Nagasaki. People have debated the morality ever since. People I respect deeply, like PZ Myers, think it was very wrong. Others think differently.

My take on this is that is was a very evil, unpleasant act. It was also necessary. It’s abundantly clear that the Japanese Military wasn’t going to surrender. The Emperor may have wanted them to and the civilian populus may have wanted them to, but it wasn’t going to happen.

I also believe it saved lives not only for us but for the Japanese soldiers and civilians. Yes, about 150,000 people died in the two bombings. I’m sure it would’ve been far, far more had we invaded. That’s not even going into the lives of American soldiers who weren’t killed in action.

It’s also worth noting that while it was clearly a war crime on our part, it paled in comparison to the incredibly evil things the Japanese did in the war. Everything from the Rape of Nanking to the way they treated POW’s was brutal, nasty and unpleasant. Now their evil does not excuse ours, but our committing a relatively small amount of evil to put a stop to far greater evil is morally acceptable.

There’s also an excellent argument to be made that had we not used the bombs, and had to invade, the Soviets would’ve also invaded and wanted their pound of flesh. I can guarantee you that they would’ve tried to take and hold northern Japan, much as they did with East Germany. Imagine how nasty it could’ve been to have a communist north in Japan, especially since the Soviets were still smarting over the Russo-Japanese War. An occupation by them would’ve been really, really nasty. Ending the war when we did, as opposed to dragging it out for another year or so, prevented this.

Finally, much as it might suck to bring up this argument, can you imagine the political fallout if Truman had not used the bombs to end the war, and hundreds of thousands of Americans had died taking Japan? Impeachment would’ve been the least of what would’ve happened to him, and rightly so. It was his job at that point to win the war with as few American deaths as possible, and doing otherwise would’ve been seriously wrong.

And I do feel the need to point out one rather obvious, but important, fact: we didn’t start the war. Japan started it. They can claim that it was necessary on their part to secure natural resources denied them by a trade embargo, but that embargo came about because of their actions in Manchuria.

It’s sad that thousands of civilians died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m not without empathy for them, especially those who died of radiation poisoning or cancer later in life. It’s an ugly, unpleasant way to die. But I strongly doubt the world in general, and Japan in particular, would have been better off if we’d had to invade.

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11 Responses to “Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki”

  1. tokyo5 Says:

    I guess you knew I’d be commenting on this post.

    I agree with most of what you wrote in this post. It’s quite fair and unbiased.

    Some say, though, that Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was neither a surprise or unprovoked.

    And it seems to me that America could’ve dropped those atomic bombs on an uninhabited island or in the ocean to demonstrate their point to Japan, rather than annihilating countless civilians including women and children.

    Most people, even in Japan, acknowledge that in the long run it was better for Japan having lost the war.
    But no one in Japan thinks it was necessary to drop atomic weapons on populated cities.

    >It’s abundantly clear that the Japanese Military wasn’t going to surrender.

    Most people here feel that Japan was close to surrendering before those bombs were dropped.
    The Japanese government just didn’t like the idea of an “inconditional surrender”, as America was insisting.

    • Chris Says:

      And it seems to me that America could’ve dropped those atomic bombs on an uninhabited island or in the ocean to demonstrate their point to Japan, rather than annihilating countless civilians including women and children.

      I have head that argument before. I don’t think it holds water. I strongly doubt that anyone from Japan who was actually in a position to do anything about the war would’ve been impressed by seeing an uninhabited island destroyed or by seeing some parts of the ocean turned to steam. Seeing a city being blown off the map is a different experience.

      Also, I do wonder why they didn’t just drop and surrender after the first bomb and instead it took two.

      • tokyo5 Says:

        I believe that if one of those bombs was dropped somewhere with no people, it would’ve made the point quite clear what it’s potential would be if used on a city.

        Politically it would’ve had the same effect without the casualties.

        >why they didn’t just drop and surrender after the first bomb and instead it took two.

        Some say that it was because due to the firebombing of Tokyo having disrupting Japan’s communications network, the Emperor didn’t understand the intensity of the destruction in Hiroshima until after Nagasaki was already attacked.
        Others say that Japan simply didn’t believe America could have more than one atomic bomb.

  2. Kristian Says:

    OK, how about Dresden?

    • Chris Says:

      I don’t know enough about Dresden to comment fully. but I’ve always thought it was, at the very least, a distasteful act, if not a war crime.

  3. Jenny Says:

    I agree with Tokyo5, personally.There’s also the theory floating about that Japan was ready to surrender,but I’m not sure how true that is.

    • Chris Says:

      Eh. Then they should’ve surrendered. They should’ve done it quickly. Arguably they shouldn’t have started the war in the first place, but that’s another issue.

      • tokyo5 Says:

        >Eh. Then they should’ve surrendered. They should’ve done it quickly.

        Japan didn’t surrender sooner because of America’s insistence that the Emperor of Japan stand trial of war crimes.
        Japan wanted the Emperor to remain on the throne…and certainly not become a defendant in the Allied courts.

        The sad irony is that America dropped two atomic bombs…and then let the Emperor remain on the throne immune to prosecution, after all.

        >Arguably they shouldn’t have started the war in the first place

        Some say that America’s naval embargo forced Japan to attack…and the America government was expecting it.

      • Chris Says:

        If Japan hadn’t invaded Manchuria, etc, there wouldn’t have been an embargo. No matter how it’s sliced, it’s still Japan that started it.

      • tokyo5 Says:

        >If Japan hadn’t invaded Manchuria, etc, there wouldn’t have been an embargo. No matter how it’s sliced, it’s still Japan that started it.

        This could go on for a while, maybe.

        In Japan, it’s taught that Western countries wanted to invade and colonize Asia, and Japan colonized other Asian countries to unite Asia from Western colonization.

        And that’s why America put an embargo on Japan.

        Anyways, I think every country teaches their school children history with a bit of propaganda to make their own country look good.
        The truth probably lies in the middle.

      • Chris Says:

        In Japan, it’s taught that Western countries wanted to invade and colonize Asia, and Japan colonized other Asian countries to unite Asia from Western colonization.

        Eh. There was probably some point to that, given the Western nations’ adventures in China and the like. But you don’t unite a continent from Western colonization by invading it. While all the colonialism wasn’t right, neither was invading.

        But, as you pointed out, we could go back and forth forever on this. I still believe Japan was 100% in the wrong in what they did during the war, and while we made mistakes and committed war crimes of our own, they paled in comparison.


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