The Lesser Of Two Evils:
Why the Atomic Bomb Was Justified
As history has progressed, Man has always looked back and debated why certain actions occurred and whether or not such measures should have been taken. Though numerous such arguments take place, one of the most debated issues is that of the dropping of the atomic bomb at the end of World War Two. Critics of the atomic bomb argue that far too many people were killed through the United States use of the bomb, they state that other means were available. The fact of the matter is, only one other method was available and that was the overland invasion of Japan. The Bomb’s use, despite the many casualties it caused, actually saved lives, both American and Japanese, and prevented many more years of conflict.
The most obvious argument for The Bomb is to point at the number of lives it saved. The island-hopping campaign in the Central Pacific had slowly pushed the Japanese north towards Japan. Assault on island after island took their toll on both the American and Japanese forces. The first step towards Japan was taken in November of 1943 with an amphibious invasion of Tarawa, a small island containing only 4,800 men, of which only 146 survived. The Japanese were a determined fighting force and inflicted 3,300 casualties upon the attacking American troops. The die-hard attitude of the Japanese was reflected in all following island battles such as the Mariana Island invasion in which 23,000 Americans fell victim to Japanese warriors, of whom more than 40,000 were slain. Despite their determination, however, the Japanese could not hold back the American war machine, despite inflicting more than 75,000 more casualties upon the assaulting American servicemen before the dropping of the atomic bomb.
As MacArthurs island campaign was starting, American strategists were already planning for the eventual invasion of the Japanese home-islands. Early in 1943 it was slated that the assault would begin on November 1st, 1945. The initial invasion force would consist of 250,000 troops that would then be backed up by an additional 550,000 soldiers upon establishing a foothold in Japan. Japans plans to counter the American invasion included 2.5 million combat troops supplemented by a militia that consisted of nearly a quarter of Japans population, including women. Just as the soldiers in the central Pacific had done, most of these people could be expected to fight to the death, with an expected outcome of more than one and a half million Japanese deaths. American soldiers who would be charged with occupying the island could expect only hatred from civilians and many would be killed even in conquered areas. All in all, more than 370,000 Americans would be likely casualties in the invasion of Japan.
On August 6th, 1945, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, inflicting 70,000 casualties upon the Japanese and destroying more than sixty percent of the city. Despite this incredible destruction, however, the Japanese still refused to surrender to the Allies. Three days later, another Bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing an additional 35,000 Japanese and destroying two square miles of the city. In light of the death of 105,000 of its citizens, Japans War Committee finally declared an unconditional surrender to the United States on August 10th, 1945. Though a ghastly number of people were slain by the use of the atomic bombs, more lives were saved by the sacrifice of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
As the war approached the autumn of 1945, the American people were growing tired of the war and President Truman needed to find a quick way to end the war. It was estimated that an invasion of Japan would last through 1946 and into 1947. Many troops had been demobilized with the surrender of Germany, but a large number of units were being transferred from Europe to the Pacific for the upcoming invasion. Transferees were becoming increasingly mutinous but could not be dealt with too harshly– they had done their job in Europe, all the public wished for now was peace. Time was being paid for with lives, and the quickest way to bring the war to an end was through the use of the atomic bomb.
World War Two was the largest war in history, with more battles being fought, more boundaries being pushed, and more deaths than had been ever seen. World War Two was a time of great technological advance and, as such things go, the technology discovered was put to use. The discovery and use of the atomic bomb was crucial to the rapid end of the war against Japan and despite the deaths it caused, its use was justified. Lives would be lost as a result of any action against the Japanese, so in the end, it was the atomic bomb, not an invasion, that was the less evil of the paths to end the war.
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