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Pres, Truman Atomic Bomb Decision

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President Truman's Decision to drop the

Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

During World War II the war in Europe ended after the unconditional German surrender at General Eisenhower's Headquarters in Reims, France, May 7, 1945. "After the unconditional German surrender in Europe the war shifted to Asia and the Pacific. As the war continued against Japan the Allied forces captured islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinaawa close to Japan brought the Japanese homeland within range of naval and air attacks." (Dannen) On August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima was the target of the first atomic bomb used against civil population in history. On August 9, 1945, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb over the city of Nagasaki. In total, about one fourth of a million people were killed by the two bombs. President Truman's Decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was greatly influenced by politics, the military and personal implications, but the decision made by President Truman to drop the atomic bomb was unnecessary to force the unconditional surrender of Japan.

Political factors prevailed over military and humanitarian considerations in the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "The concerns of top American leaders about the Soviet Union's future actions had the most significant influence on President Truman's deliberations on whether or not to drop the atomic bomb on Japan."(Bill Gordon) If America did not drop the bomb in order to demonstrate its military superiority, American leaders had concerns that the Soviet Union would occupy Manchuria and would share the occupation of Japan with the U.S., especially if the Japanese surrendered several weeks or months after the Soviet Union's entry into the war against Japan on August 8, 1945. In addition, American leaders believed that dropping of the bomb would strengthen their position in future communications with the Soviet Union concerning their field of influence in Eastern Europe.

When Truman would talk with his advisors, those who approved of the use of the atomic bombs usually began with vivid descriptions of the fighting in the Pacific, and climaxing with the general slaughter of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After they recount the intensity of these battles, the bombs follow logically as a pardon from further carnage by our amphibious invasions of the Japanese home islands. This was one political technique used to manipulate the decision of President Truman.

President Truman must have kept in mind the personal political implications of his decision to drop the bomb. With polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly supported the "unconditional surrender" of Japan and with his knowing the strong anti-Japanese sentiments of the American people, I must have felt that I had little political risk in dropping an atomic bomb on Japan."(Harry Truman) President Truman must have also considered his difficulty in explaining to American voters why the government spent two billion dollars to develop a superior weapon if he personally decided not to deploy it, especially if the war had dragged on with additional American casualties. Here is an entry from Truman's diary, "I have to decide Japanese strategy - shall we invade Japan proper or shall we bomb and blockade? That is my hardest decision to date. But I'll make it when I have all the facts."(Ferrell)

President Truman told his diary that he had ordered the bomb dropped on a "purely military" target, so that military objectives and soldiers the target and women and children are to be spared. The bombing order issued to General Spaatz on July 25, 1945 made no mention of targeting military objectives or sparing civilians. The cities themselves were the targets. In Truman's diary he states, "This weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new."(Dannen) President Truman also states in his diary, "He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful..." These quotes from his diary are important because he truly wanted the bombs to be dropped on military targets, with no civilian casualties. His decision may have been misinterpreted by Gen. Spaatz, resulting in the bombing of the cities. Here is a public statement giving reasons on why to use the atomic bomb "The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from



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