.. according to Major General Curtis E. Lemay, “[t]he war would have been over in weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb”(Alp 334). Even if the atomic had to be used, the Japanese should have received some warning prior to it’s use, they should have been given the chance to see the power of the bomb before it was dropped on them. According to Ralph Bard, Under Secretary of the Navy, and member of the interim Committee, ” ..
before the bomb is used against Japan, Japan should have some preliminary warning for say two to three days in advance of use”(Bard). The Japanese should have been given some warning; the atomic bomb took them by surprise. A demonstration of some sort should have been conducted to give the Japanese a chance to see the destructive power of the atomic bomb before it was used on their country. General Spaatz stated, ” .. if we were going to drop the atomic bomb, drop it on the outskirts – say in Tokyo Bay – so that the effects would not be as devastating to the city and the people”(Alp 345) . Admiral L.
Lewis Strauss, special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy also proposed that a demonstration be done, ” .. over an area accessible to the Japanese observers, and where its effects would be dramatic enough to prove to the Japanese that at any given moment the U.S. could destroy any Japanese city”(Alp 333). Evidently, all the possible alternatives to using the atomic bomb, probably the most dangerous, most destructive weapon in the history of the world, were not properly investigated. Gar Alperovitz argues that the Joint Chiefs of Staff never formally studied the decision, nor did they carry out the usual extensive staff work and evaluation of alternative measures. The American usage of the atomic bomb was irresponsible. The lives lost, the injuries inflicted, and the damages all reflect the devastating power of the atomic bomb, of which the Americans knew about.
Tests conducted by the Manhattan Engineer District showed the effects of the atomic bomb when detonated on a target. Tests were done on a site 29 kilometers by 39 kilometer bombing range in the New Mexican desert. A small bomb was detonated on a 100 feet tall tower. The tower was blown to pieces; the detonation left an impression that was 2.9 meters deep and 335 meter wide (Maag & Rohrer). The Manhattan Engineers had a fairly good idea as to what kind of damage a full size atomic bomb would incur on the Japanese, but yet the bomb was still used.
Though argued that the atomic bomb saved many American lives, it took a lot of innocent Japanese lives, mostly women and children. In Hiroshima, 66 thousand people were killed, and 69 thousand were injured, totally casualties were approximately a half of the population of Hiroshima. In Nagasaki, 39 thousand people were killed, and 25 thousand were injured. Most of the casualties due to the dropping of the atomic bomb were innocent women and children. Many have argued that this was the most barbaric to ever take place, ” ..
one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of non-combatants in all history” (Alp 352) according to Admiral William D. Leahy, who also made it clear that ” .. war is not to be waged on women and children” (Alp 326). Leahy claims that the use of the bomb adopted the ethical standards common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. Apart from the thousands of Japanese lives that were taken, the bomb also fell on home, killing approximately 23 or more American prisoners of war held in Japanese prisons.
Over 1000 Japanese-Americans were killed as a result of the dropping of the atomic bomb (Long). The ripping pressure caused by the detonation of the atomic bomb surged through the lands, and ripped through buildings and the bodies of people. Those whom the immediate effects of the bomb didn’t kill, were left injured and wishing they were dead. Most injuries resulted from the radioactive heat emitted by the detonated bomb, and other injuries were results of falling buildings or flying debris. Numerous people were reported to have suffered fire related burns; mostly “flash” burns, caused by the instantaneous radiation of heat and light, similar to excessive exposure to x-rays.
Others were injured by the falling buildings, and the flying debris caused by the pressure of the waves of energy that surged through the area. Pressure waves swept through the area, wiping out just about everything in a 1-mile radius. In Hiroshima, the bomb destroyed everything within 4 square miles and in Nagasaki; it destroyed everything within 1.5 square miles. In Nagasaki, the damages cost were smaller than in Hiroshima because of the strategic position of Nagasaki. It is located between two mountains, and therefore these mountains retarded the effects of the bomb. Evidently, the atomic bomb is an extremely powerful weapon; it was described as having more power than 20 thousand tons of T.N.T. It is said to have had more blast power than that of the “British Grand Slam,” the largest bomb ever used up until that time (Manhattan Engineer District).
In-fact, the bomb was so powerful that the smoke and flames were recorded to have reached a height of 40 thousand feet within eight minutes of detonation. Despite the fact that there are a number of logical and ethical reasons why the use of the atomic bomb is looked down on, there are still people, with valid reasons as to why the atomic bomb was necessary. The most common reason advocating the use of the atomic bomb is based on the argument that it saved American lives. Secretary of War Stimson states that the atomic bomb ” .. was going to be used because it would save hundreds of thousands of American lives” (Alperovitz 354). According to Lemay, “[I]f a nuclear weapon shortened the war by only a week, probably it saved more lives than were taken by that single glare of heat and radiation” (Alperovitz 334).
Lemay maintains, “the atomic bomb probably saved three million Japanese lives and perhaps a million American casualties” (Alperovitz 341). The bomb probably did save American lives, but who knows how many; it could have saved anywhere from one to one thousand American lives, no one knows how many. What is known however is that the bomb not only took thousands of Japanese lives, it also took approximately 23 or more lives of American prisoners of war being held in Hiroshima and over one thousand Japanese-American lives. Initially, when targets were being selected for bombing, there were four different cities selected, but only two bombs produced. Marshal states, “when we got the bombs, we had to use them in the best possible way to save American lives ..
” there were only two bombs and ” .. the situation demanded shock action” (Alperovitz 361). The truth about the bomb is that it cost too much money to make, approximately ten million dollars to produce one bomb. Plutonium, the most crucial part of the atomic bomb was hard to come by. Uranium-235 was scarce at this time, and plutonium was a by-product of uranium.
Not only was the uranium to produce the plutonium hard to come by, it was also hard to process. The plutonium was hard to process and could not be produced in large amounts; it had to be produced in small quantities ( Maag & Rohrer). Marshall argues that exploding a bomb over the sea has never been tested and its behavior was unpredictable. No one knew how the atomic bomb would behave, it could be a dud, in which case the Japanese would laugh in the faces of the Americans, or it could get out of control. The truth about the situation is that there was only enough plutonium to produce two bombs, and the Americans could not afford to squander one bomb, which costs ten millions to produce, on a demonstration. There is really no way the Americans could have known what the Japanese would have done.
No one knew for sure what would have happened had the bomb not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only assumptions have been made about what would have happened. For all anyone at all knew, the Japanese could have kept on fighting until the last Japanese was killed. Defending the decision to use the atomic bomb, Marshall states, “we had to assume that a force of 2.5 million Japanese would fight to the death .. ” kind of like how they did on the small islands that the U.S. troops attacked, “we figured that in their homeland, they would fight even harder” (Alperovitz 361). What could have possibly led Marshall to believe this is the fact that the Japanese were very resourceful. After they were blocked in, and food lines were blocked, the Japanese started to promote the substitution of acorns for rice, over one hundred and fifty millions acorns were processed for distribution across Japan as a rice substitute.
Not only that, but the Japanese also discovered that the pine tree root could be processed for a small quantity of oil, so the Japanese started to vigorously cut down pine trees for processing. As far as the issue of awaiting the entry of the Russians into the war as an Allied force, the Americans were cautious. The Russian option was somewhat overlooked because of the fear of communist influence in Asia. The Allies did not really wish to exercise the option of ending the war with a Soviet attack if they could avoid doing so, only as the last possibly means (Alperovitz 84). The Americans were fearful that the Russian influence would possibly lead to widespread communism in Asia.
Despite the arguments put forth by Marshal and many others who advocated the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the author of this paper still maintains that the use of the atomic as a quick end to the war was a poor choice considering the lives lost, the people killed, and the amount of damages that it caused. Close to half the population of the area that the bomb was dropped on was completely and totally wiped out. Not only did the atomic bomb kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, but it also devastated an entire country. Due to the fact that the bomb was dropped on Japan’s two industrial cities, Japan went into a total economic and traditional decline. Japan’s economy was devastated, and due to the fact that the Americans had to step in and help the Japanese economy to build back up, most of the American values and traditions were incorporated into the Japanese culture. The Americans had good intentions when they decided to use the atomic bomb, they merely wanted to stop the bloodshed and did what they thought was possibly best.