Last week, we examined Japanese interment during World War II and thought about the connection between security and liberty. This week we will assess the dropping of the atomic bomb Little Boy on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Fat Man on Nagasaki three days later. As your book states, in March 1945, approx. 100,000 Japanese succumbed from firebombs in Tokyo, and by July 1945, 500,000 people had perished. There were more deaths in these five months in Japan than during five years of war in Europe, and the fighting that took place in the Pacific was among the most barbaric in the war. On July 26, 1945, Japan was given the option to surrender unconditionally but ignored the demand. On August 6, the United States dropped the first of the only two atomic bombs to be used during wartime. A port city of 400,000 people in southern Japan, Hiroshima was a center of war industries and a command center for Japanese homeland defenses. In other words, the city was a military target that, as your textbook mentions, had not yet been bombed. As the reading and video suggest, American intelligence and the experience of the island campaigns in the Pacific convinced leaders that casualties to Japanese civilians and Americans would be painstakingly high should the United States lead an offensive on the Japanese mainland.
For this reason, Truman wanted to avoid an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Also, historians have since concluded that intimidating Russia was another reason for dropping the bombs. To be sure, leaders underestimated the damage that the bombs would cause, and this is something that President Truman would later admit. The Good War, as it is often called, officially ended on August 15, 1945, with the Japanese surrendering. (yet, it still was not unconditional) As a result, the United States emerged as the most powerful and affluent nation in the world. The consequences of the war and the dropping of the most powerful weapons the world had seen marked the beginning of a new type of war that would influence foreign policy and last for nearly fifty years.
After completing the assigned reading in the textbook and Cougar Courses, and watching the videos, answer the following:
Was dropping the bombs on Japan just or unjust? Why?
When we consider the intelligence that many more Americans might have died had we continued onto the mainland, and even more Japanese would have perished, were the lives of Japanese civilians worth more than the lives of American military personnel?
Was the use of atomic weaponry worth the Cold War and the subsequent arms race that followed?
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