g. 6th,1945, 70,000 lives were ended in a flash. To the American people whowere weary from the long and brutal war, such a drastic measure seemeda necessary, even righteous way to end the madness that was World WarII. However, the madness had just begun.
That August morning was theday that heralded the dawn of the nuclear age, and with it came morethan just the loss of lives. According to Archibald MacLeish, a U. S. poet, “What happened at Hiroshima was not only that a scientificbreakthrough .
. . had occurred and that a great part of thepopulation of a city had been burned to death, but that the problem ofthe relation of the triumphs of modern science to the human purposesof man had been explicitly defined. ” The entire globe was now to livewith the fear of total annihilation, the fear that drove the cold war,the fear that has forever changed world politics.Order now
The fear is real,more real today than ever, for the ease at which a nuclear bomb isachieved in this day and age sparks fear in the hearts of most peopleon this planet. According to General Douglas MacArthur, “We have hadour last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitablesystem, Armageddon will be at our door. ” The decision to drop theatomic bomb on Japanese citizens in August, 1945, as a means tobring the long Pacific war to an end was justified-militarily,politically and morally. The goal of waging war is victory with minimum losses on one’sown side and, if possible, on the enemy’s side.
No one disputes thefact that the Japanese military was prepared to fight to the last manto defend the home islands, and indeed had already demonstrated thisdetermination in previous Pacific island campaigns. A weaponoriginally developed to contain a Nazi atomic project was availablethat would spare Americans hundreds of thousands of causalities in aninvasion of Japan, and-not incidentally-save several times more thanthat among Japanese soldiers and civilians. The thousands who havedied in the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were far lessthan would have died in an allied invasion, and their sudden deathsconvinced the Japanese military to surrender. Every nation has an interest in being at peace with othernations, but there has never been a time when the world was free ofthe scourge of war. Hence, peaceful nations must always have adequatemilitary force at their disposal in order to deter or defeat theaggressive designs of rogue nations. The United States was thereforeright in using whatever means were necessary to defeat the Japaneseempire in the war which the latter began, including the use ofsuperior or more powerful weaponry-not only to defeat Japan but toremain able following the war to maintain peace sufficiently toguarantee its own existence.
A long, costly and bloody conflict is awasteful use of a nation’s resources when quicker, more decisive meansare available. Japan was not then-or later-the only nation America hadto restrain, and an all-out U. S. invasion of Japan would have riskedthe victory already gained in Europe in the face of the palpablethereat of Soviet domination.
Finally, we can never forget the maxim of Edmund Burke: “Theonly thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men donothing. ” The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought us into a warwhich we had vainly hoped to avoid. We could no longer “do nothing”but were compelled to “do something” to roll back the Japanesemilitarists. Victims of aggression have every right both to end theaggression and to prevent the perpetrator of it from continuing orrenewing it. Our natural right of self defense as well as our moralduty to defeat tyranny justified our decision to wage the war and,ultimately, to drop the atomic bomb. We should expect politicalleaders to be guided by moral principles but this does not mean theymust subject millions of people to needless injury or death out of amisplaced concern for the safety of enemy soldiers or civilians.
President Truman’s decision to deploy atomic power in Japanrevealed a man who understood the moral issues at stake and who hadthe courage to strike a decisive blow that quickly brought to an endthe most destructive war in human history. Squeamishness is not amoral principle, but making the best decisions at the time, given thecircumstances,