Today is the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. That bomb, and a second dropped on Nagasaki three days later, ended World War II. Inevitably, liberals will use the occasion to reflect on how cruel, unjust and unneeded the two bombings were and thus the US was and is all those bad things. I haven’t been to formal school in decades but knowing what I do of how The Left has skewed history to reflect its views, I can hear leftist teachers exclaiming, “How could any country be so cruel!”
First of all, America was in a world war. The Nazis and Imperial Japan wanted to rule the globe, not by democracy but by dictate. They were willing to kill as many Americans as needed in order to succeed. America’s survival was at stake. The Allies had beaten the Nazis in a bloody, horrible fight. Almost every American family had lost someone close. Japan was fanatical. Like many radical Islamists today, death to them was not the worst thing that could happen. Surrender was. Not all Japanese felt this way but the militarists controlling them did. And Japanese culture promoted dying for the emperor. Culture is a very powerful thing.
America had been fighting since 1941; Europe and Asia since the late 1930s. America knew the Japanese attitude toward surrender. They were preparing for a bloody invasion. My father, who had spent three years fighting in Europe, was on his way to the Pacific. No respite. This was all or nothing. America had been trying to make an atomic bomb since the war started – as had the Nazis and Japan. Both had atomic bomb programs. It’s still not publicly known exactly how far each got. New revelations about Germany’s atomic program are still occurring. Japan, moving its program to relatively safe Korea, was rushing to make one. There are reports they fashioned a crude device as the war ended but their plant was overrun by the Russians who were the next to get the bomb.
Japan’s efforts to make an atomic bomb are not well known. They are always the victim in this Hiroshima argument. But you can read my book, Japan’s Secret War, and see that they tried very hard and would have used whatever atomic bombs they could in a second, and were, by war’s end, aiming to use it on the US fleet that was readying the invasion. Even without figuring an enemy atomic attack, US planners were estimating hundreds of thousands of American casualties if the invasion proceeded. Some estimates are as high as 1 million. This was what President Harry Truman and US military leaders were faced with when they learned in July 1945 that an atomic bomb had been made and tested at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and was available for use.
While all this was top secret, one can imagine the uproar – the sheer rage – later when it became public that these leaders had decided to forego use of a war-winning weapon and instead had subjected our soldiers to more death and carnage. Today politicians, concerned more with enemy rights than US soldier safety, do that kind of thing. But in 1945, it would have been unthinkable. Ending the terrible suffering for both sides and as quick as possible with the least harm to Americans had to be the priority. Morally, it was the right and only decision they could make. Through the years, however, the Left has distorted that decision by claiming:
1) It wasn’t needed. Japan was ready to surrender and all we had to do was wait them out.
2) Truman used the bomb like a bully to show the Soviets that we had it and therefore we were boss and to try and stop them from taking Eastern Europe.
If nothing else, the human piloted “Kamikaze” flying bombs which wreaked
havoc on our fleet at Okinawa in the late stages of the war convinced our military that the Japanese had a fanatical will. Kamikaze meant “Divine Wind.” It was an allusion to God on their side. They were not going to surrender unless something extraordinary happened. Yes, there were peace feelers. But millions of Japanese including women and children were being mustered for the invasion. The military was in control and would never have surrendered without the mushroom clouds showing the utter futility of carrying on. And what would a non-invasive blockade have produced? More time for them to have worked on defenses, war-winning weapons, and strengthening the people’s will to resist. Who at that time could have guaranteed that a blockade would have gone as planned?
As to Truman using the bomb to cower the Soviets – the exact opposite is the truth. Upon becoming president, Truman, largely clueless about the war, vowed to continue the policies of the deceased president, Franklin Roosevelt, whom he succeeded. Roosevelt loved the Soviets and had already given them Eastern Europe at Yalta. He felt Soviet intentions were benign and ordered they be appeased on all fronts. At the time the atomic bombs were dropped America desperately wanted Russia to declare war on Japan and thus help defeat them. In no way did the Truman administration want to intimidate them. It wasn’t until early 1946 that the administration, trying hard to appease the Soviets but faced with their mounting belligerence, finally agreed with Churchill that an “Iron Curtain” had descended. Such history is not taught today. But go back and read the accounts of the time, especially books by participants written right after the war, and you will see it is true.
Finally, the anti-American Hiroshima argument usually omits the fact that Japan attacked America – not the other way around. One can argue root causes, economic embargos and the inevitable American racism Leftists bring up in saying the Hiroshima attack was uncalled for. (That argument goes both ways. Japan was certainly as racist as any in World War II.) The salient fact is that Japan started the war with America. Pearl Harbor was a sneak attack, uncalled for, unjustified and as cruel as any act of war. All war is hell. But America hadn’t started it. It only ended it by the quickest, least destructive way to its own people – and probably the Japanese people as well.