America’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War is a significant event not only in the history of the United States and Japan but also in human history. Four years after Japanese forces overrun the US Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Americans launched a ferocious attack on Japan, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which resulted in the surrender of the Japanese forces practically ending the SWW. The nuclear attack caused extensive damage in both cities with the reports indicating hundreds of thousands of deaths occurred, and the two towns were completely razed to the ground. The attack on the Japanese cities is also critical in global history in the sense that it represented the first use of nuclear in history. More than a century after the attack, debate still rages on whether it was necessary to cause such weapons in such manner to make Japan surrender. A closer look at the United States and the Allies justification of the bombings suggests that, although the decisions achieved the objective of ending the war, it was uncalled for to use such heavy weapons because there were a variety of strategic options which would have forced Japanese capitulation (Thesis)
Those who support the United States action on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contend that the bombings were justified to ensure that Japan surrendered as a way of protecting American loss of life as a result of the military activities of the Japanese forces. The argument is built on the fact that Japan had demonstrated a high military capability to cause extensive damage to the United States and its Allies. Notably, Japan had overrun America’s Navy base of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The early morning attack consisting dive-bombing Japanese plan fighters shattered Pearl Harbor, almost razing the entire base to the ground and resulting in more than 2400 deaths of American marines with more than 1100 reported as injured as a result of the attack (Liehr, Sopcheck, & Milbrath, 2016). In mid-July 1945, Japan had inflicted extensive damage on the allies with evidence suggesting that the Japanese forces had killed Allied forces in the Pacific in the month who numbered almost have of the causalities the Allies suffered in the Pacific for three years before the month that has been highlighted. They argued that such damage to military personnel proved that Japan would become more deadly if faced with the threat of defeat. Japan had further demonstrated its military capabilities by committing atrocities in China and other parts of the Pacific (History.com Editors, 2019). Although these arguments offer a compelling case for using atomic bombs Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they fail to convince because they do not consider the military capabilities of the United States and its Allies, the Surrender of Germany, the potential damage to civilian populations, and better options regarding to the specific locations as where exactly should the bombs have been dropped.
The military might of the Allies and the United States provided a better option to force Japan to surrender and avert the catastrophe of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the time of the attack, there massive conventional bombings going on in various strategic installations of the Japanese forces as conducted by the Allies. Although Japan had proved a lethal force in the war, the combination of the United States, Russia, Britain, and their allies would have forced Japan to surrender even the country proved stubborn towards the end period beginning 1945(Alperovitz, 2010). A combination of the resources of the three major powers at the time and their allies would have forced Japan to capitulate because Japan would not have resisted such combined forces for a long time. Although some dispute this position that Japan was determined to fight to the last man, such argument is weak because as early as 1944, indications were clear that Japan would lose the war but kept on fighting (Alperovitz, 2010). For this reason, the United States and its Allies should have used this information that Japan was weakened after years of participating in the war and take the opportunity to engage in a war of attrition to ensure that Japanese forces are weakened over time and forced to copulate.
Closely related to the military might of the Allies was the fact that events in Europe favored a victory for the allies if they combined forces to force Japan to surrender. On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler, the leading figure of the Axis powers, had committed suicide, robbing of the Central power the leadership that had sustained the war for more than five years. A week later, his successor, Gen. Alfred Jodl, representing the German High Command, surrendered German forces, ending the participating of Germany in the war. Following this act, President Harry Truman announced that American military engagement had ended in Europe (Glass, 2018). The outcome of the war in Europe meant that the Allies had adequate resources now to concentrate on other parts of the world where the remnants of the Axis power were still holding out for war. Germany was the cornerstone of the war and, therefore, her departure from the war should have been a clear indication to the United States and its allies that Japan would not hold out for long considering that significant players in their camp had announced surrender. Even the Japanese forces were well aware that they have been isolated following the capitulation of Germany. For these reasons, the argument that the military capability of Japan necessitated the war does not hold since the power of the allies at the time was overwhelming to be scared by a single enemy in the name of Japan.
Lack of consideration for the damage to the civilians is another reason that the dropping of bombs would have been avoided. In 1945, just war was established under international law that only combatants would be targeted in military operations. This was meant to ensure that innocent civilians are not killed during the war. During the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in the death of more than 300, 000 civilians and many more sustained serious injuries that have lasted for generations and even today(History.com Editors, 2019; Alperovitz, 2010). The potential for such damage was clear for the military strategists who had assessed the powerful impact that nuclear weapons can cause. The decision to target two cities that are predominantly inhabited by civilians, therefore, should have considered the ethical issues of bombing innocent civilians using heavy weaponry to subdue an armed enemy. Sacrificing the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians to prove military might on the part of the United States was not only unethical but also offensive to the people who value humanity.
Besides the huge number of people affected, the United States had the option of dropping the bombs in areas that were not mainly inhabited by the civilian population. For instance, the US army had the choice of hitting locations outside Hiroshima, and similar damage would have been but with little effect on the civilian population. An explosion of such magnitude would have demonstrated to the Japanese the might of the US military, and such awareness would have forced Japan to surrender. It should be noted that Enola Gay did not face much resistance in Hiroshima. After bombing Hiroshima, the use moved to Nagasaki knowing too well that Hiroshima had been obliterated. The damage inflicted Hiroshima was enough to cause Japanese surrender. Thus, it was not necessary to cause another substantial civilian carnage to prove any point to the Japanese military.
Based on the evidence examined, it can be concluded that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not justified. Although some argue that Japanese forces proved capable of causing extensive damage to the United States and its allies, the fact that Germany had surrendered was adequate to conduct a war of attrition to force Japan to surrender. The potential for damage on the civilian’s settlements and deaths should have informed the US to avoid the two cities and bomb areas where combatants lived. Overall, the United States wanted to experiment its might in atomic weapons and its decision to obliterate Nagasaki and Hiroshima had little to do with defeating Japan in the war.
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