Short Essay: Question Two
President Truman’s decisions to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War faced some questions and criticism, although the president defended his decision. The reason why the president decided to drop the bombs is that the Japanese refused to surrender unconditionally, as demanded by the United States. The war had been raging for years, and the Japanese showed no signs of surrender to put an end to the war. Japan declared war on the United States and attacked US fleets at Pearl Harbor (Donohue 12). They were also interested in American-owned assets in the Pacific region, and this is why they angered the US.
The United States was keen to maintain its position as a World Super Power, and thus it could not take such threats and aggravations lying down. During the last days of the war, the Japanese showed signs of relenting, yet the United States still decided to drop atomic bombs. One reason for this was to punish Japan for its grandstanding and refusal to surrender and end the war. Another reason for the bombings was that the United States wanted to show the world that any attacks would be met with a fierce retaliation, such as the atomic bombs.
President Truman had several options, one of them being accepting the conditional surrender of Japan. Another option was to wait for the weakened Japanese troops to surrender with time, and also demonstrating the atomic bombs to Japanese leaders before the actual bombings (Walker 24). All these would have been a sign of weakness, according to the US. It is difficult to judge if President Truman was right in his decision. The main issue was that the bombs were too severe of retaliation, and it affected hundreds of thousands of civilians. The effects of the bombs are still felt today in Japan.
Donohue, Nathan. “Understanding the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Center for Strategic & International Studies (2012).
Walker, J. Samuel. Prompt and utter destruction: Truman and the use of atomic bombs against Japan. UNC Press Books, 2016.