The Power of the Atomic Bomb in Shaping the Post-War World

analytical Essay
6438 words
6438 words

The Power of the Atomic Bomb in Shaping the Post-War World

There were few men in Washington who understood the role the atomic bomb could play in ending World War II and shaping the peace. Military planning focused on two options, conventional bombing accompanied by a blockade or an invasion of the Japanese home islands. Both options were so problematic politically and militarily that policymakers who were familiar with the Manhattan Project found it difficult to oppose the bomb’s use. There were also few men who knew the role the bomb could play in winning the peace. President Harry S. Truman, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson saw the bomb as a way to shape the post-war world in the American image, without reliance on regional allies to maintain peace throughout the world. Thus, the question in 1945 was not why should the bomb be used, but rather, why should it not be used?

The conventional bombing and blockade option was the less attractive option for ending the war. The Joint Intelligence Staff could not provide an accurate estimate of the time required to force Japan to surrender unconditionally through blockade and bombardment alone. Estimates ranged from two months to two years. The lower estimates counted on a clarification of surrender terms to induce Japan to surrender. It also required area bombing of Japanese cities. Advocates of the plan also called for the acquisition of more favorable bases surrounding Japan in order to consolidate the blockade and intensify the bombing. Doing so would have required additional amphibious assaults on the China coast and Korea. If such operations were to be undertaken, Army critics asked, why not use the same amphibious resources to d...

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...Washington: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army.

Offner, Arnold A. "President Truman, the Potsdam Conference, and the Origins of Atomic Diplomacy." Presented at International Conference: "Fifty Years After: The Close of the Pacific War Re-Examined" Sponsored by International House of Japan Inc., Tokyo, Japan, August 23-26, 1995.

Sherwin, Martin J. A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race. New York: Vintage Books, 1987.

Sigal, Leon V. Fighting to the Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Skates, John Ray. The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb. Columbia,SC: Univesrity of South Carolina Press, 1994.

Stoff, Michael B. (et al, eds.) The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991.

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