What Prompted the Decision to Drop the Drop Atomic Bomb

The events that influenced the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan have had an immense impact on the history of war as well as on the relationship between U.S, Russia and the Asian continent at large. The dropping of the “Little boy” and the “Fat man” atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively has since great controversy among journalists, historians, veterans of the World War II, social scientists and the citizenry.[1] People have since questioned the integrity of President Truman’s decision to authorize the bombing.

For instance, John Hersey wrote “Hiroshima” which was published in 1946 in the New Yorker criticizing the atomic diplomacy. An analysis of the events preceding the dropping of bomb show that there was more to the dropping of the bomb than just ending the war and saving lives. To date, controversy continues to grow on the issue of whether Truman authorized the bombing to end the war by asserting for an unconditional surrender by Japan or if it was a move to intimidate the Soviet Union or for political diplomacy?James Bryne, the then U.S National Security Advisor was driven by the intention to show might by demonstrating possession atomic weaponry and thus make the Soviet Union more manageable.

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From Bryne’s perspective, Russia would become subjective to U.S and thus would be prevented from playing any key role in influencing post-war peace in the Asian continent.[2] This is because by the time (15th August) that Russia was to enter the war against Japan, the atomic bombing would have already prompted Japan to surrender unconditionally. Confirms that Bryne had during the Postdam meeting, highlighted to Truman that a demonstration of the atomic bomb would assert their power to dictate the fate of China and also help them dominate the post-war-world. Both Truman and Bryne hoped that by intimidating Russia, they would considerably reduce Russia’s political influence and hence minimize its chances of winning over the scramble for china.

To cover up for his ulterior motives, Truman fabricated his different reasons regarding his decision to drop the bomb rather than telling the Americans truth as he feared they could protest against his authority.[3] He thus claimed that the decision made it possible for many lives to be saved had U.S attacked Japan.

He also claimed that the idea was to force Japan to an unconditional surrender.Between June and July the year 1945, U.S had bombed about fifty-nine of Japan’s sixty-six largest cities and left millions of casualties. This alone was enough reason to discredit Truman’s decision to authorize the bombing. A number of military commanders such as Europe’s General Dwight and the chief of the Army Air Force-General Henry Arnold had advised Truman against using the bomb since Japan was already on the verge of surrendering. Truman was also aware that Japan would surrender especially after Russia’s agreement to enter the war with Japan. In his July 1945 diary, Truman had on the 18th written to his wife that,“I’ve gotten what I came for–Stalin goes to war on August 15th with no strings on it.

..I’ll say that we’ll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won’t be killed.”[4]This fact discredits Truman’s claim that the bombing was aimed at forcing Japan to surrender and hence end the war. Truman strategically delayed the 17th July meeting between U.S and the Soviet Union at Postdam such that the success of the atomic bomb would have already assessed and thus guide his decisions regarding the war.

Following the successful testing of the bomb on July 16th, Truman then influenced the decision to change the set date for Russia’s entry into the war with Japan form 8th to 15th August. This would give America an ample time to pursue its ulterior motives. Such motives are evidence by Truman’s rush to accept the initial conditional surrender by Japan. The atomic bomb thus was primarily dropped as a strategy to win control over China and Asia at large by keeping Russia out.

[5] The atomic bombing was the first of U.S’s strategic acts to gain an upper hand in the intensifying cold war between U.S and the Soviet Union. The decision to drop the atomic bomb was thus a landmark in the history of war and has for a long time influenced the relationship among the Western countries.

Author: Jerome Cooper


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