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.