What was the wisdom of using the atomic bomb on the Japanese at the end of World War II?
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This would obciously depend on who you ask and what perspective you bring to the question? Are you from Japan? If so you might suggest that there was no wisdom to it at all. Many historians have written about the fact that the Japanese were ready to surrender but that moving that process took time given the large bureacracy in the government at that time. If this was the case, what was the wisdom of dropping the bomb?
Truman and others have discussed the desire to send a message to Stalin but of course it wasn't ten years before the Russians had the bomb as well, so it clearly didn't act as a deterrent while Stalin massacred millions of his own people and pulled the iron curtain over eastern europe.
This is a question which can have no definite answers, as it has emotional undertones regarding use of nuclear weapons attached to it. Also, it is very difficult to say with any degree of certainty what course of event the World War II would have followed if Atomic bomb was not used.
However one thing is quite clear that use of atomic bomb did result in swift end of world war II. To this extent it did prevent to some extent human misery and loss of lives that would have otherwise taken place as a result of continuation of the war.
The role played by the fear of atomic bomb in ending the war is undisputed. However, I believe, this fear of the bomb could have been created by display of power of Atomic bomb without dropping it on locations like Hiroshima and Nagasaki where it had such a devastating effect on human life. Perhaps it would have been better to demand surrender from Japan telling them about the power of atom bomb, and if necessary dropping the bomb on some territory of japan where the cost in terms of human misery would not have been so high. In case, Japan still did not surrender, the atomic bomb could have been dropped over ares containing human population.
I don't think that wisdom is the word I would choose, as I sincerely don't think that wisdom had much to do with the decision to use those weapons. I don't believe stupidity did either, I simply think that by that point in the war, with the hatred built up on both sides, the desire for revenge for Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March, and the normal machinery of wartime decision-making and I don't think there was another possible choice other than to use those weapons.
Historians debate the issue as though there were, and as though calm, careful deliberations took place before the bomb was used. There wasn't. The bombs were built to be used on Berlin, period. When Berlin surrendered, the decision to use them in the Pacific was quick and untroubled.
I agree with others who question the application of the word "wisdom" in this sense. Revenge had a lot to do with it, as #4 indicates. I must admit, I do think the terror and loss of civilian life caused by the bombs in Japan were not worth the quick end to the war. If you can imagine for one moment the situation reversed - and Japan dropping A bombs on America, you might be able to see why.
I have to disagree with one of the earlier posts who claim the Japanese were ready to surrender before the atomic attacks. It was very clear that they would not give up their islands without a fight. My father, who had already put in his tour of duty in Europe, was already scheduled to join what would have been a massive land invasion of the Japanese islands. Invasion forces were estimated at 1 million or more; American and Allied casualties would have probably exceeded 100,000. Although I certainly don't advocate the use of nuclear weaponry today, there seemed to be no other way to convince Japan in 1945 to surrender without a much greater loss of life than those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The argument for the atomic bomb was that it would save thousands of American lives because the Japanese were willing to fight until the end as mentioned by post #6, and battle with them on their own turf would probably have developed into guerrilla warfare. Such warfare, as one well knows after the debacle of VietNam, would have decimated American troops.
This is not to justify what was done. "War is hell," wrote Ernie Pyle, correspondant of World War II.
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