Truman's Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

The atomic bombings in Japan were horrifying and caused great damage to Japan. Many innocent lives were lost and so much land in Japan was destroyed. Before Harry S. Truman had become President of the United States, Frank Delano Roosevelt had allowed a secret project called the Manhattan Project to take place. The Manhattan Project allowed scientists to research and make a weapon that would obliterate enemy lands, specifically Japan. Previously, the Germans had been working on a way to make these atomic weapons as well but they weren’t successful and only possessed a few missiles that arrived when they did not need them anymore. The US, however, spent $2 billion on scientific research on creating an atomic weapon to use against their enemies during the war. Since Germany had already surrendered in May 1945, the US wanted to drop the bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another reason why Japan was the target for the U.S. was that Truman wanted to eliminate the chance of Japan declaring war ever again. When Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, it was brutal. Nobody had expected it and many lives were lost that day. After the attack, the U.S. had entered the war and fought against Japan. Still, throughout the war, Truman and many other Americans felt that the Japanese forces hadn't suffered nearly as much as Americans did during the attack at Pearl Harbor. Truman, however, believed that dropping the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would show them what it was like for Americans during the Pearl Harbor attack knowing how much damage the bomb would do. Although Truman had believed the atomic bomb was the only way to end Japan’s ability to declare war, Truman’s action was not justified morally because they bombed Japan’s cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without warning them about how dangerous the atomic bombs were and by dropping the bomb it increased vengeance and promoted nuclear warfare.   

One reason why Truman’s action was not justified was that the U.S. did not give a warning about the dangerous weapon. If the U.S. had told Japan that they would not use the atomic bomb against them if they had surrendered and warned them about the damage it would do to their people and their country, it would have saved so many lives if Japan had agreed to surrender. In the passage called “Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan Was Immoral,” written by Christian Century, it says, “We could thus have warned Japan of what was in store for her unless she had surrendered immediately.” This quote is saying that if the U.S. had at least warned Japan about the dangers of the bomb, the deaths of innocent Japanese civilians could have been avoided. If Japan had not agreed, then dropping the bombs with a warning would not have been a problem because the lack of concern Japan would have had over its people would have been obvious. While the U.S. had the opportunity to save tens and thousands of innocent lives, it chose to attack Japan brutally. In the same passage written by Christian Century, it says, “...with brutal disregard of any principle of humanity we ‘demonstrated’ the bomb on two great cities, utterly extinguishing them. This course has placed the United States in a bad light throughout the world.” The decision made by Truman was inhumane and brutal and killed innocent people when it could have been avoided. Century also brings up a good point when he says that the bombing gave the U.S. a bad reputation because it did. Just like previous attacks made by different countries made them unreliable, the bombings in Japan made the U.S. unreliable and not trustworthy and many nations might have even viewed the U.S. as a threat. The bombing was not only devastating to Japan but it also gave the United States a bad reputation since they had attacked major Japanese cities without any warning about how much damage the newly developed atomic bombs could do. Truman’s actions were horrifying and were not justified because it killed so many innocent lives that were attacked without warning and it gave his country a bad reputation. 


Despite Truman's belief that bombing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would help stop Japan from declaring war again, the atomic bombing only made Japan more vengeful and thus promoted nuclear warfare. As soon as the bombing was over, Japan’s reaction was to tell their people how they had won the war because they did not have to go to the extent of the atomic bombing and killing innocent lives to win the war. By telling their people what the U.S. had done to Japanese civilians, it caused more hatred and vengeance towards the United States. In the passage “Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan was Immoral,” by Christian Century, Century wrote, “Vengeance as a motive suffers from no moral or religious stigma in Japanese life.” What the author is saying is that Japanese people did not think that vengeance was disgraceful; they saw it as a motive. And with vengeance being a motive it put the United States in a vulnerable position because they would try to improve their army and attack the United States and its Allies the way the U.S. did, meaning that they would push for research on creating nuclear weapons to use against their enemies in the future. In the passage, Century also states, “They declare that Japan must bow to the conqueror at the emperor’s command, but insist that she must devote all her available energies to scientific research. That of course can mean only one thing -- research in methods of scientific destruction.” This quote is saying that while Japan’s emperor ordered the Japanese people to respect the ones who had been responsible for their defeat, they still planned to develop new nuclear weapons they could use against their enemies in the future. This means that the dropping of the bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki promoted nuclear warfare since Japan, and surely other countries as well, had wanted nuclear weapons in their possession so that they could use them against the enemies in other wars after seeing what the atomic bomb could do. This was a negative effect because nuclear war is very dangerous and can kill soldiers as well as innocent people just like it did in Japan. Although Truman thought it was necessary to drop the atomic bomb on Japan for them to surrender, it was not justified because it promoted nuclear warfare and it increased Japanese hatred and vengeance towards the United States. 

In conclusion, Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was not justified because it promoted nuclear warfare, increased Japan’s hatred and vengeance towards the United States, caused tens of thousands of innocent people’s avoidable deaths,  and gave the United States a bad reputation. Nuclear warfare would only cause more damage to the environment and countries because so many people would get hurt and so much land would be obliterated. The most important reason why it was not justified was that the deaths of innocent people could have been avoided if the U.S. had warned the Japanese about the destruction the weapon it possessed could cause if they did not surrender immediately, but, instead, the bomb was dropped without any warning and so many people died and so much land was destroyed. Not only, did this promote nuclear war, but it also gave the United States a bad reputation because they had attacked using an atomic bomb without any warning, and this made the United States untrustworthy and dangerous. All in all, President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb without warning Japan was unjustified and immoral.


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