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The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Essay Example

The Historical Event

In 1939, the U.S. scientists started developing the first atomic bomb. Despite the fact that the war did not start yet, the American Government realized the importance of creating a powerful weapon for the protection in the face of a possible war. At the same time, the Nazi scientists, as well as the Soviet ones, were working on the same projects, and each country was interested in the inventing of such new weapon. In 1942, the United States entered the war as the Allied. The American scientists were interested in the researches of Nazi scientists because they had succeeded in the developing of an atomic bomb. In 1944, when the defeat of Nazi Germany was more than obvious and it required only some time to finish the war, some of the Nazi scientists agreed to cooperate with the American Government and shared their knowledge and results about the creating of an atomic bomb.

In 1945, the Nazi Germany capitulated, but the Japanese still continued fighting back. By that time, the developing of the first atomic bomb was finished and the American Government was one of the first nations which had a nuclear weapon. According to this fact, it was one of the main reasons why the United States did not use atomic bombs in Africa or European campaign. Despite the scientists’ progress, the bomb could be finished only with the assistance of German scientists. In addition, the usage of an atomic bomb in Europe was too dangerous because no one could predict the consequences of its explosion. Japan was a more preferable target because it was separated from the continent and decreased the possible negative outcomes for the allied countries.

In spite of the fact that Germany was defeated, the Japanese did not have an intention to give up. The U.S. general Douglas MacArthur proposed an operation which predetermined the massive bombing of Japan and, as a result, the invasion on the islands; it received the name “Operation Downfall”. However, even such well-planned operation predetermined numerous causalities among the Allied troops, up to 1 million people. The US president, Truman, understood that it was a too high price for the victory and decided to use the new weapon to limit the causalities among his people as well as end the war. The Secretary of War Henry Stimson and other generals supported this plan; they explained that it would help bring the war to its quick end and demonstrate the military power of the United States to the world. However, there were also the opponents of this idea, who believed that it was an immoral decision, though a necessary one.

On August 6th, the American B-29 bomber was loaded with the first uranium bomb which weigh was almost 9,000 pounds. The bomb received a codename “Little Boy”, and it was decided to drop it on Hiroshima, the manufacturing center with more than 350,000 citizens. The bomb exploded at height of 2,000 feet above the city and destroyed almost five squared miles of Hiroshima. After such devastative attack, Japan was ready to surrender. However, on August 9th, the second target was selected, and it was Nagasaki. At that time, the U.S. Government used the plutonium bomb “Fat Boy” which weigh was about 10,000 pounds. The bomb was more powerful than the previous one, but due to mountains and valley the explosion damaged the area of only 2,6 square miles. The bombs killed about 100,000 people in Hiroshima and about 70,000 people in Nagasaki; by the end of the year, these figures increased because of people who died from radioactive irradiation. On August 15th, the Japanese Emperor announced about capitulation and on September 2nd World War II was finally ended.

Historical and Contemporary Cause of the Event

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is often introduced as a necessity to end the war and to limit the number of casualties if the Allied tried to initiate the massive invasion in Japan. However, the main reason is the demonstration of power to the Japanese and Soviets. During the planning of this operation, there were many disputes about the targets and the effect of the bomb. Some generals offered to drop the bombs on Kyoto, but this idea was rejected because of several reasons. First, Kyoto was an ancient and beautiful city and the U.S. Government wanted to prevent it from damage. In fact, there was no difference which city to attack because it was rather the visual demonstration of the power that the causing of damage itself. Second, the Japanese showed deep fanaticism to their culture. The destruction of such ancient and important for the Japanese culture city could have the opposite effect. As a result, it could lead to the escalation of the conflict and the Japanese would rather kill all than give up because of their loss. Third, there was a necessity that the emperor was alive and signed capitulation. The recognition of capitulation by the emperor would prevent further struggle of the Japanese.

According to this fact, it can be said that the main cause of bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the demonstration of the U.S. power and making the Japanese to surrender. The bombing did not predetermine killing as many people as possible. Moreover, there were many debates about the moral aspect of this action. Some generals offered to target only the military facilities and inform the citizens about the attack in order to reduce the number of victims among the civilians. However, this plan was not adopted because a) the bomb could not work properly as it was the first test; b) it would demonstrate that the U.S. was not ready to take serious steps and responsibility for the consequences (Poolos, 2008). Thus, it was decided not to inform about the bombing in order to prevent unpredictable consequences of this new weapon. In addition, the Americans wanted to respond for Pearl Harbor. The American navy considered to be very powerful before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack has spoiled the image of the American navy, and they wanted to revenge for it.

However, the dropping of bombs on the Japanese was not so necessary; the end of the war was obvious; it required only tie and durable negotiations. The Japanese, despite their fanatic beliefs, also understood that without Germany their chances to win the war alone were very low. Hence, the Allied forces could not even start the invasion of Japan in order to end the war, though it required more time. Nevertheless, the U.S. Government realized that after the end of the war, Soviets whose ideological views did not correspond to the American ones would probably become a new enemy. According to this fact, the demonstration of the U.S. power was primarily targeted at Soviets rather than at the Japanese. This demonstration of the U.S. military power had to be the warning to the Soviets and to show the readiness of the American Government to use any measures to defeat their enemies.

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Different Historical Interpretations of the Event

The classical interpretation of this event is Truman’s decision to bring the war to its early end and reduce the loss among his troops. The dropping of the atomic bombs had to make the Japanese surrender. The historians state that it was more a demonstration of the American nuclear power to the Japanese and Soviets rather than an attempt to bring the large number of victims. As a result, two nuclear bombs killed about 150,000 people and made the Japanese emperor to sign the capitulation (Barnaby, 1977).

Such traditional view of the end of World War II did not take into consideration some facts. First, before dropping the atomic bombs, the Americans provided numerous bombing of other cities, including the downtown of Tokyo (Wainstock, 2010). The scales of damage and number of victims caused by those bombings were much bigger than those caused by the atomic bombs. The Japanese did not surrender then as they were not going to surrender after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Japanese generation of that time was very loyal to its country; probably, more than any other nation. For instance, they trained young pilots to hit their planes with explosive into the American warships. If these people were ready to sacrifice their own life in order to bring the damage to the enemy, killing 150,000 people would not make them surrender (Okuda, 2008). In addition, the information that the Japanese were weak by the end of the war and were ready to surrender is not totally correct. The Japanese understood their hard condition, but it does not mean that they were ready for capitulation. For instance, Germany bombed Great Britain, but it did not surrender. During the first two years of the war, the Soviets were losing the war; they did not have enough weapons and their loss of the living force was incredibly high. They lost their territory, but still did not surrender. Even if some cities of the United States were severely bombed, it did not make it to surrender. According to this fact, it can be said that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not have such great effect as the traditional historians introduce it.

The Japanese understood that their capitulation is a matter of time, but they wanted to choose the most appropriate conditions of surrender. After the first atomic bomb, the Japanese emperor tried to make the Soviets to enter the war on the Asian side. The Soviets agreed to meet to discuss this issue, but a day later, they declared a war on Japan. Such decision was crucial for the war ending. First, the Japanese realized that they could not resist two countries with nuclear weapons (Malam, 2002). Second, if the Japanese surrendered to the Soviets, it would mean that communists would capture their country. As a result, their political, social and economic structure which was based on the principles of the empire would be destroyed by the communists’ ideology. Hence, choosing between surrender to Americans and the Soviets, the Japanese hurried to sign a capitulation to the United States in order to save their empire from the communists’ invasion.

Thus, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has a secondary effect on the Japanese´s decision to surrender. However, it had a great effect on the Soviets, who decided to end this war and support the United States. The Soviet understood that their new enemy is the Americans, but they could not support the Japanese because they were too weak after the five years of war. In addition, the demonstration of nuclear weapons by the United States made the Soviets put their efforts on the developing of own nuclear weapons (Richardson, 2012). Hence, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki meant the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.

The Positive and Negative Outcomes of the Event

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became a tragedy for Japanese people. Almost 150,000 people died because of the atomic bombs and thousands died because of radioactive irradiation. The consequences of radiation had an effect on the next generations (Osborne, 2012). Nevertheless, this event had both positive and negative consequences for every country which participated in the war and for the entire globe in general.

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Among negative outcomes, one may outline the following:

  • Thousands of victims who died because of the atomic bomb and radiation;
  • The intended killing of civilians;
  • The worsening relationship between Japanese and Americans;
  • The nuclear weapon armament race.

After the usage of the first atomic bomb, the United States and the Soviet Union started a rapid development of the nuclear weapons (History is Our Teacher, 2013). The conflict that raised between these two nations after World War II and their nuclear weapons storages may lead to the new world war with the usage of nuclear weapons and, as a result, destroying all life on the planet.

Negative reaction of global community. The majority of countries viewed this act as inhuman as well as many Americans who were against the usage of an atomic bomb in Japan. Nevertheless, they understood the necessity of this action despite the consequences of this event on thousands civilian lives.

The positive outcomes may be identified as the following:

  • The end of the war. Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the beginning of the end (Demenchonok, 2009). Despite many disputes about the validity of this theory, one may still state that this event has a direct or indirect influence on the Japanese´s decision to surrender. Thus, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki meant the end of World War II and the end of the global slaughter.
  • Prevention of more deaths. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the deaths of more than a hundred thousand of civilian Japanese. However, it was the only right decision that the American Government could make in order to prevent more killings. The Japanese did not want to surrender and World War II would not finish till the last enemy accepted capitulation. Thus, there were two variants of further actions: start the invasion and lose almost a million of people or drop the bombs and decrease the number of possible victims. One may say that it cannot justify the America’s action to kill the civilians, but choosing between two evils, it was the lesser one.
  • Saving the Allied soldiers. Every nation should care first of all about its own people and army. The decision to drop the bombs meant that the U.S. and Soviet soldiers, would not have to sacrifice their lives in order to make the Japanese accept the fact that they have already lost the war. In fact, it was a matter of time because the Japanese lost their ally Germany and they were left alone in this war. Nevertheless, they were stubborn to accept the capitulation and the Allied forces had to push on them. However, this push cannot be committed by the means of own people; if the enemy does not want to surrender, there is no need to sacrifice soldiers. Thus, bombing prevented numerous crops among the Allied troops.
  • The demonstrative example of nuclear bomb explosion. Despite the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union started the Cold War which lasted about fifty years, none of the sides used the nuclear weapon (Craig & Logevall, 2009). Both nations had a huge armory of nuclear weapon, but both of them understood the consequences of its usage. The Japanese example demonstrated how a small bomb could cause the huge damages. Both nations had hundreds of the bombs which were even more destructive. Even if they used the half of their nuclear arsenal, it would be enough to destroy all cities on the planet. Hence, the demonstration of nuclear explosion in Japan stopped two nations from the beginning of another war with usage of nuclear weapon.

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