6th, 1945, 70,000 lives were ended in a flash. To theAmerican people who were weary from the long and brutal war, such a drastic measure seemed a necessary,even righteous way to end the madness that was World War II. However, the madness had just begun. ThatAugust morning was the day that heralded the dawn of the nuclear age, and with it came more than just the lossof lives.
According to Archibald MacLeish, a U. S. poet, What happened at Hiroshima was not only that ascientific breakthrough . . .
had occurred and that a great part of the population of a city had been burned todeath, but that the problem of the relation of the triumphs of modern science to the human purposes of man hadbeen explicitly defined. The entire globe was now to live with the fear of total annihilation, the fear that drove thecold war, the fear that has forever changed world politics. The fear is real, more real today than ever, for theease at which a nuclear bomb is achieved in this day and age sparks fear in the hearts of most people on thisplanet. According to General Douglas MacArthur, We have had our last chance.
If we do not devise somegreater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. The decision to drop the atomic bomb onJapanese citizens in August, 1945, as a means to bring the long Pacific war to an end was justified-militarily,politically and morally. The goal of waging war is victory with minimum losses on one’s own side and, if possible, on the enemy’s side. No one disputes the fact that the Japanese military was prepared to fight to the last man to defend the homeislands, and indeed had already demonstrated this determination in previous Pacific island campaigns.
Aweapon originally developed to contain a Nazi atomic project was available that would spare Americanshundreds of thousands of causalities in an invasion of Japan, and-not incidentally-save several times more thanthat among Japanese soldiers and civilians. The thousands who have died in the atomic attacks on Hiroshimaand Nagasaki were far less than would have died in an allied invasion, and their sudden deaths convinced theJapanese military to surrender. Every nation has an interest in being at peace with other nations, but there has never been a time when theworld was free of the scourge of war. Hence, peaceful nations must always have adequate military force at theirdisposal in order to deter or defeat the aggressive designs of rogue nations.
The United States was thereforeright in using whatever means were necessary to defeat the Japanese empire in the war which the latter began,including the use of superior or more powerful weaponry-not only to defeat Japan but to remain able followingthe war to maintain peace sufficiently to guarantee its own existence. A long, costly and bloody conflict is awasteful use of a nation’s resources when quicker, more decisive means are available. Japan was not then-orlater-the only nation America had to restrain, and an all-out U. S.
invasion of Japan would have risked the victoryalready gained in Europe in the face of the palpable thereat of Soviet domination. Finally, we can never forget the maxim of Edmund Burke: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is thatgood men do nothing. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought us into a war which we had vainly hopedto avoid. We could no longer do nothing but were compelled to do something to roll back the Japanesemilitarists. Victims of aggression have every right both to end the aggression and to prevent the perpetrator of itfrom continuing or renewing it. Our natural right of self defense as well as our moral duty to defeat tyrannyjustified our decision to wage the war and, ultimately, to drop the atomic bomb.
We should expect politicalleaders to be guided by moral principles but this does not mean they must subject millions of people toneedless injury or death out of a misplaced concern for the safety of enemy soldiers or civilians. President Truman’s decision to deploy atomic power in Japan revealed a man who understood the moral issuesat stake and who had the courage to strike a decisive blow that quickly brought to an end the most destructivewar in human history. Squeamishness is not a moral principle, but making the best decisions at the time, giventhe circumstances, is clear evidence that the decision maker is guided by morality. The atomic bomb was considered a quick and even economical way to win the war; however, it was a crueland unusual form of punishment for the Japanese citizens. The weapon that we refer to as quick was just theopposite. On one hand, it meant a quick end to the war for the United States, and on the other hand, a slow andpainful death to many innocent Japanese.
According to a book called Hiroshima Plus 20 the effects of radiationpoisoning are horrific, ranging from purple spots on the skin, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, bleeding from themouth, gums, and throat, weakened immune systems, to massive internal hemorrhaging, not to mention thedisfiguring radiation burns. The effects of the radiation poisoning continued to show up until about a month afterthe bombing. In fact the bomb also killed or permanently damaged fetuses in the womb. Death and destructionare always a reality of war; however, a quick death is always more humanitarian.
When this powerful nation called the United States dropped the bomb, we sent out the official go ahead for therest of the world that nuclear weapons were a viable means of warfare. We unofficially announced that it wasO. K. to bomb women, children, and elderly citizens. The thought that atomic weapons are needed to keep thepeace is exactly the idea that fueled the cold war.
Albert Einstein said in a speech, The armament racebetween the U. S. A. and U. S.
S. R. , originally supposed to be a preventative measure, assumes hystericalcharacter. On both sides, the means of mass-destruction are perfected with feverish haste . .
. The H-bombappears on the public horizon as a probably attainable goal. Its accelerated development has been solemnlyproclaimed by the president. In short, according to Hiroshima Plus 20, by now, the military has at least 50, 000 nuclear warheads in storageand ready with a handful of people in charge of them.
In the words of James Conant, President of Harvard, Theextreme dangers to mankind inherent in the proposal wholly outweigh any military advantage. Has the atomic bomb introduced the fear of total annihilation . . . that has forever changed world politics? Thatseems to be the main point of the argument against dropping the atomic bomb on Japanese cities in August,1945. Yet this judgment completely abstracts from the concrete circumstances in which the decision wasmade-a world exhausted by war; an implacable, cunning and ruthless enemy; hundreds of thousands ofcasualties in an allied invasion of Japan; permanent strategic considerations; and the like.
In other words, thereply fails to meet the argument for dropping the bomb and changes the subject from the immediate decision tothe long-term consequences of the decision. But even if one grants the point about fear of annihilation, it is not clear that the world has fundamentally changednor that the whole world is always in danger of nations from time immemorial. For example, ancient Romesacked Carthage, plowed it under and salted the earth. Medieval and modern religious wars have annihilatedmillions. More recently, there was Hitler’s genocidal six-million-death final solution to the Jewish problem, andthe Communists’ ten of millions of mass murders continue to this day. All this has been done without benefit ofnuclear power.
Gen. MacArthur’s comments came at the beginning of the atomic or nuclear age, and while the source and thejudgment deserve respect, experience has shown that nuclear power in Western hands deterred a third worldwar and ultimately caused the collapse of the greatest threat to world peace since World War II, namely, theSoviet Union. But even during the much-decried arms race of the Cold War years, both East and West refinedtheir crude nuclear technology to suit the requirements of waging war, e. g. targeting the enemy’s missiles,aircraft and submarines, rather than putting all their eggs in the nuclear annihilation basket.
War is a terriblething but the fear of annihilation will curb even the greatest tyrants’ bloodlust. In short, fear is part of the human condition and those peaceful nations which learn to live with the destructivepotential of nuclear power are capable of great good. Great evil is more likely to be the result of uncheckednuclear power in hands of lawless nations. As ever, peace and safety depend upon military power being in theright hands.
— English Essays