Can the following statement be an appropriate proposition for a persuasive essay?Can the following statement be an appropriate proposition for a persuasive essay? "While the destructive power of...

Can the following statement be an appropriate proposition for a persuasive essay?

Can the following statement be an appropriate proposition for a persuasive essay?

"While the destructive power of the atomic bomb appears devastating, its usage in a legitimate war reduces the overall casualties which would occur by utilizing conventional war weapons"

Asked on by dany93

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

To JK 180 --  a few points FYI:

1.  Yes, historians do generally agree on the point about Truman's reasons.  Some also argue that scaring the USSR entered in to the decision, but that's not seen as the main reason.  I can attest to the truth of this statement from my POV as a college history instructor (which of course means I know everything there is to know).

2.  I disagree with the statement that the bombs didn't reduce casualties among Japanese citizens.  Maybe they didn't in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (though firebombing those cities might have killed a lot had it happened).  But they certainly caused fewer casualties than an invasion would have.  Look at the number of Japanese civilians who died on Saipan and Okinawa...

3.  The general who considered using nukes in Korea was Douglas MacArthur (it was brought up at a meeting between him and other commanders).  But there's a big difference in the circumstances.  Japan was tottering and the bombs can be seen as a last blow to make the topple.  In Korea, the war was much more of a stalemate and there was no way the use of two bombs was going to change things.  In addition, the USSR had nukes by this point and might well have entered the war explicitly if we had used nukes.  So it wouldn't have been a one-way street like it was with Japan.

 

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

I agree with the previous poster about the value of this thesis statement and really like the ideas suggested for further exploration in your essay. At the same time, though, I have two comments I'd like to make:

1. I was taught, too, up through high school that the US's use of two atom bombs actually ended up saving lives by bringing the war to a quick end. I'm not certain now, however, of the truth to that claim. I've never seen a sustained, informed argument. Do most historians really agree on this topic? Maybe consider revising your thesis to say that the bombs may have ended up saving the lives of American citizens; they certainly didn't reduce casualties among the Japanese civilians. I tend to think now that war drives innovations in offensive technologies and that once we have those technologies, we often can't resist the itch to use them. Didn't some famous general want to use atomic bombs again in Korea? And if atomic bombs really are a valid way to end a war quickly, why wasn't he allowed to do so? Simply repeating a claim without evidence isn't making an argument. Your evidence could draw on authority (what do some of the most respected historians today actually say about this topic?) and statistics (how many lives were lost in the two atomic explosions? how many lives might have been lost if the war had continued in a conventional manner?).

2. Your thesis reads well in that it is clear, direct, and confident. Some of the word choices might be improved. Both "utilize" and "usage" are often nothing more than fancy ways of saying "use." Some audiences may prefer the fancier wording, but not everyone does. I would also ask that you reconsider the verbs used in two places, "appears" and "occur":

"While the destructive power of the atomic bomb apperas devastating, its usage in a legitimate war reduces the overall casualties which would occur by utilizing conventional war weapons."

Does the atomic bomb truly have devastating destructive power, or does it just "appear" to? Also, do casualties just "occur," or are they suffered or inflicted? Especially when talking about human lives, it's important for us to think about the words that we use.

My two points sound critical, I know, but I offer them constructively. I think you have a very good thesis statement here.

The link below doesn't provide good documentation, but it does suggest that there is controversy surrounding the popular argument that atomic bombs indeed save lives.

[Update: I'm not a historian and, I readily admit, believe that we should ask hard questions about the stories that we grow up with. Still, I get the sense from a quick review of recent scholarship indexed in the JSTOR database that there is indeed ongoing scholarly debate about the need to use atomic bombs to end WWII.]

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Absolutely.  This is a very good thesis statement -- it clearly states a position that you wish to argue and there's a great deal of evidence that you can use to back it up.

Most historians agree that the main reason President Truman decided to use the atomic bombs on Japan was to reduce the number of casualties that the US would have sustained in an invasion.

The conduct of Japanese soldiers on islands in the Pacific gave military leaders ample reason to believe resistance would be ferocious.  So did the Kamikaze attacks.  So it is clear that US and Japanese casualties from an invasion would have been very high.

In addition, you might want to address the idea that conventional weapons were no less horrific in a lot of ways (Tokyo firebombing, for instance).  So it's not clear that atomic bombs were more inhumane than an extended conventional bombing campaign would have been.

Anyway, this is an excellent thesis statement.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

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

Posted on

When a student is asked to write an essay justifying use of atomic bomb, the student perhaps has no choice but to find the best possible argument for it. And the statement in the question that "its usage in a legitimate war reduces the overall casualties which would occur by utilizing conventional war weapons", is the best possible argument to use. Giving example of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing that occurred 54 years back would, help to make the argument more convincing. However if we are talking about reality and not just essays in class things are quite different.

Today, use of nuclear bomb will not stop a conventional war from continuing. It will convert a conventional war into a nuclear war. Please remember, when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, US was the only country with nuclear power. Today the situation is very different.

Another important point to note is that an overwhelmingly strong enemy is always a very effective way of preventing a war. But to bomb an adversary into submission, or a race to to develop such power is not a very good way to free this world from the evil of war.

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