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Why is it right that the US used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War...

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amazona0125 | (Level 3) Honors

Posted November 18, 2009 at 9:38 PM via web

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Why is it right that the US used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II?

Why is it right that the US used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 18, 2009 at 9:43 PM (Answer #2)

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The most common answer for this is that the use of the atomic bombs on these two Japanese cities saved more lives than they destroyed.

If the bombs had not been used, it would likely have been necessary to invade Japan in order to end the war (remember that Japan still wouldn't surrender even after the first bomb).

This invasion would have been horribly bloody.  The invasions of such islands as Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa showed how many Japanese (both military and civilians) would die as well as showing how bloody it would be for American soldiers.  If the invasions of these islands were bloody, how much worse would it have been to invade the home islands of Japan that were A) heavily populated and B) more important to the Japanese than any of those other three.

So historians in the US, at least, tend to argue that the bombs saved lives on the whole, even though they were horrible for the people of those two cities.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted November 18, 2009 at 10:05 PM (Answer #3)

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It is difficult to say with conviction that it was right for the United States to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The only clear benefit of doing this was to bring a long war to a speedy closure. But we cannot be sure that this was the only way to bring the war to a close.

One alternative way that comes to my mind immediately, and which does not necessarily preclude the use of atomic bombs, was to at least give some kind of credible warnings to Japan of the devastating power of bomb, before actually using it.

By dropping the atomic bomb, USA, which enjoys a very high reputation for supporting humanistic values, has made it easier for others to use atom bomb without feeling guilty.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 18, 2009 at 10:17 PM (Answer #4)

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The answer assumes that it was right for the US to use atomic bombs. This is very debatable at best and at worst, wrong. The number of deaths, in my opinion, did not make the bombings right at all. However, if a person wanted to make the case that the bombings were right, I suppose that he or she would say one of two things:

1. Great force had to be shown to an enemy that would not surrender.

2. In war, almost anything goes.

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted November 18, 2009 at 11:32 PM (Answer #5)

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It is said that history is written by the victors. And the question is asked here on an American website if it was right for America to use the atomic bomb on the enemy cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now I know, from the American point of view, that we believe that far more lives were saved on both sides by using those two bombs. If they hadn't been used, so the reasoning goes, the Japanese would have fought, in some places, until the last man, woman, and child was wiped out. This would have cost untold loss of lives on both the invading side and especially the defending side.

OK. That's the American view. Are there any Japanese people out there? What is the view of the nation of Japan about the use of Atomic bombs? What was the view just after the bombs were used? What is it now?

And how about those individuals responsible for theorizing and constructing the bombs? Did they think the devastation caused and the annihilation of human life and the subsequent years of suffering and mutations caused by the bombs was right? Did Robert J. Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein think it was right? Do their opinions count today?

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted November 19, 2009 at 6:47 PM (Answer #6)

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Wow--as I lost two great uncles on the USS Arizona, my family would be outraged at my response, but I cannot agree that it was "right" for the United States to drop the atomic bombs on two cities in which citizens were going about the innocent business of everyday life. These innocent families were not responsible for the choices their government made, and yet they were killed as a result.

Hmm . . .when terrorists attacked our country because of the misdeeds of our government it was wrong. When innocent civilians die as a result of bombings in Iraq, it's considered wrong. How was Hiroshima and Nagasaki any different?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 20, 2009 at 1:21 PM (Answer #7)

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While it is certainly impossible to predict what would have happened if the U.S. had not bombed Japan, it is also impossible to determine if America's actions were "right." Were the Allied forces in agreement with America's actions? Yes. Did the bombs bring the end of the war immediately? Yes. So, in that sense, the decision to drop the atomic bombs was effective.

It would be interesting to talk to a WWII Japanese veteran about what Japan's plan was.  Many believe that the war in the Pacific theater would have continued indefinitely because the Japanese were fierce warriors and had so much to lose, but again, no one can say what "would" have happened.

What is true is that America did its best to warn the people of Japan by dropping flyers with information about the bombings. So, in that sense, the dropping of the atomic bombs is quite different from terrorist attacks or innocent civilians dying in Iraq (most of whom--if you look at the statistics--die from insurgent-created bombs--the U.S. is no longer waging an air campaign in Iraq and hasn't been for some time).

In regards to Post #9, I haven't heard bin Laden or others who claim responsibility for terrorist attacks in the U.S. say that they attacked because of government choices; so it's not logical to compare the terrorist attacks today which are based on radical religious ideology (bin Laden hates our society, our culture, our economy, not "choices" made by the government) to an attack during a world war with a military enemy.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 20, 2009 at 2:36 PM (Answer #8)

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Wow--as I lost two great uncles on the USS Arizona, my family would be outraged at my response, but I cannot agree that it was "right" for the United States to drop the atomic bombs on two cities in which citizens were going about the innocent business of everyday life. These innocent families were not responsible for the choices their government made, and yet they were killed as a result.

Hmm . . .when terrorists attacked our country because of the misdeeds of our government it was wrong. When innocent civilians die as a result of bombings in Iraq, it's considered wrong. How was Hiroshima and Nagasaki any different?

If your logic holds (and I agree with scarletpimpernel about the differences between 9/11 and this), then you should not stop with condemning the atomic bombs.  You should take this to its logical conclusion and condemn all bombing of all German and Japanese cities, which killed as many innocent people as the atomic bombs.

You should probably also condemn attacks on French cities that were held by the Germans.

The problem I see with this sort of (to my mind excessive) idealism is that if you have "bad guys" who use their power for unacceptable ends, then you can either A) just let them do whatever they want or you can B) fight back against them on the idea that the UNINTENDED deaths of innocent people are outweighed by the good brought by defeating the aggressors.

If you renounce all killing of innocent civilians, you renounce war.  That would be great, but only after we live in a perfect world where we never have to fight back against people who use their power for wrong.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 20, 2009 at 4:29 PM (Answer #9)

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History group has discussed this issue at length. See this thread on the dropping of the atomic bomb.

And read post #4  (or #5)

 

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 20, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #10)

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My father was an American G.I. who stormed Utah Beach on D- Day in 1944. After long fighting, he suffered a severe back wound in the Battle of the Bulge. After recovering, he rejoined his unit and fought his way across the Rhine River and through Germany. Following Hitler's surrender, his unit received orders that they would be among the first wave of troops to invade Japan. As most of the previous posts have stated, the two bombs--the first did not convince the Japanese to surrender--saved tens of thousands of American lives that would have been sacrificed in a land invasion of the islands. I am probably alive today because my father, and many other G.I.s like him, did not have to sacrifice their lives instead.

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meshe | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 24, 2009 at 9:19 PM (Answer #11)

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i don't understand  y people in the govt. who r basicaly elected 4rm the same public most of the times consider themselves superior to others though it is not so.i  talked to amricans i talked to indians the r very nice people . but as far as govt. policies of these countries are considered even my own country , these r sometimes very awkward. i want 2 ask the so called modrenizied and civilized world where were ur conscience when milions of people died in japan .just becuse the policies of their govt. dat were not acceptable to us govt. and wt abt the the innocent public of boht the countries who had to suffer alot . I  condem every such atack dat is responsible 4 killin even  a single person either he is muslim, hindu , christian or anyone. may God help us all to solve ths incomprehnsible enigma.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 24, 2009 at 10:43 PM (Answer #12)

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i don't understand  y people in the govt. who r basicaly elected 4rm the same public most of the times consider themselves superior to others though it is not so.i  talked to amricans i talked to indians the r very nice people . but as far as govt. policies of these countries are considered even my own country , these r sometimes very awkward. i want 2 ask the so called modrenizied and civilized world where were ur conscience when milions of people died in japan .just becuse the policies of their govt. dat were not acceptable to us govt. and wt abt the the innocent public of boht the countries who had to suffer alot . I  condem every such atack dat is responsible 4 killin even  a single person either he is muslim, hindu , christian or anyone. may God help us all to solve ths incomprehnsible enigma.

I agree with much of what you say, but I look at it this way: if the US didn't fight Japan, what would my father's life have been?  His home town in the Philippines was occupied by the Japanese when he was 5.  They treated the Filipinos poorly and it seems clear they would have continued to do so if they had stayed.  So to me this war was necessary for getting the Japanese of those days out of the Philippines and Korea and Taiwan and China (many of those people were treated much worse than the Filipinos) and for getting the Nazis out of power.

It is shameful that innocent people have to die sometimes.  But it would also be shameful to have allowed Japan and Germany to continue in the ways that they were behaving in the those days.

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effee | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 2, 2010 at 9:22 PM (Answer #13)

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It is said that history is written by the victors. And the question is asked here on an American website if it was right for America to use the atomic bomb on the enemy cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now I know, from the American point of view, that we believe that far more lives were saved on both sides by using those two bombs. If they hadn't been used, so the reasoning goes, the Japanese would have fought, in some places, until the last man, woman, and child was wiped out. This would have cost untold loss of lives on both the invading side and especially the defending side.

OK. That's the American view. Are there any Japanese people out there? What is the view of the nation of Japan about the use of Atomic bombs? What was the view just after the bombs were used? What is it now?

And how about those individuals responsible for theorizing and constructing the bombs? Did they think the devastation caused and the annihilation of human life and the subsequent years of suffering and mutations caused by the bombs was right? Did Robert J. Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein think it was right? Do their opinions count today?

I believe the truly important issue is that people had and have a conscience about monumental decisions such as this. If I believed otherwise it would be seriously disturbing. Simple things in life are quite rigidly predictable-if we sow seed in good soil and there is rain and sunlight crops will grow. If we touch a match to dry wood and kindling we can have a fire and warmth. There are innumerable such examples of simple situations where the outcome of our actions is fairly certain.

Unfortunately the bombing of those cities in WWII were not part of a circumstance with predictable outcome. It was a most terrible tragedy for the world to be in that situation in the first place but I would like to believe that the people responsible for that decision made the the best choice that they were able to with the information at their disposal. The simple fact is there was no way to know which choice would result in less suffering and loss of life.

In closing I'd like to say that I hope we never find ourselves in such circumstances again. The fact is, however, and at least as far as I can tell, we are in more serious jeopardy from environmental degradation and resource depletion than from anything else, although that could certainly be a major source of world conflict in itself.

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