Historians have questioned the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. Evidence shows that President Truman weighed not only military information in his decision to use the bomb, but also considered postwar politics and foreign policy when he considered dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. An analysis of his personal papers offers a different reasoning for using the bomb than what was commonly known at the time. The discrepancy between Truman’s public and private reasoning will be discussed.
Many cultural and racial beliefs about the Japanese played into the decision to drop the atomic bomb.
The private papers of President Truman as well as the diaries of other political and military figures offer helpful insights. Personal accounts of the scientists at the Trinity test site are also used in examining the decision to drop the atomic bomb.
Herein, there is an analysis of post-war US foreign policy from an atomic perspective which allows a person from my generation to understand the policies that were created by and followed from the Cold War.
Assumptions About Dropping the Bomb
1. Many American soldiers would have died in a land invasion of Japan.
Absolutely. Casualty estimates ranged from 250,000 American casualties to more than
5,000,000 Japanese casualties in a land invasion of Japan’s home islands. The real
question is was a land invasion necessary?
2. We had to use the atomic bomb in order to defeat Japan.
False. There were a few options available to the United States at the time. The
USSR was supposed to enter the Japanese war, blockade and (aerial sorties) bombing
was an option ...
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"[M]y own opinion was that the time now and the method now to deal with Russia was to keep our mouths shut and let our actions speak for words. The Russians will understand them better than anything else. It is a case where we have got to regain the lead and perhaps do it in a pretty rough and realistic way. They have rather taken it away from us because we have talked too much and have been too lavish with our beneficences to them. …This was a place where we really held all the cards. I called it a royal straight flush and we mustn't be a fool about the way we play it. They can't get along without our help and industries and we have coming into action a weapon which will be unique [the atomic bomb]. Now the thing is not to get into unnecessary quarrels by talking too much and not to indicate any weakness by talking too much; let our actions speak for themselves."
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