Sunday, May 3, 2009

Truman Was Right to Nuke Japan

Jon Stewart made some headlines when he called Truman a "war criminal" for nuking Japan. He reasoned that Truman should have dropped a bomb 15 miles off the cost as a warning; then nuking a city would have been alright. Stewart quickly apologized for his comment and said he did not believe Truman to be a war criminal. The clip at the bottom of the post is of Stewart's apology.

Still, this notion is becoming increasingly prevalent. Truman was wrong, he was just showing off to the Soviets, the Japanese were about to surrender... . The video over at does a great job at explaining why Truman was right. It is almost 17 minutes long, but well worth watching the whole way through.

Brief Synapses with a few of my thoughts thrown in:
A warning would not have worked. The proof, we nuked one of their cities and they still did not surrender.

We did warn them. You can find copies of the dropped leaflets online.

We did not have enough. The Manhattan Project only produced four bombs. One was tested to make sure they worked. There was still a chance that something would go wrong with one of the others. Using one as a warning would leave only two left. As it was, the second one almost was not enough.

Both cities were strategic targets. Some people make it out to sound like the only people living in the cities were woman and children. In fact, they were important military hubs and bases, not to mention the manufacturing base.

Regular conventional bombing could be, and in some cases were, worse then the atomic weapons. There is a nice list toward the end of the video linked to above, but I think that Dresden deserves special mention. Go ask a resident who lived through the fire bombing just how destructive conventional weapons can be.

The bombings saved lives. I disagree with some of the numbers in the video. Had an invasion of the Japanese home islands been needed to win the war, there was serious potential for a million American casualties and ten million or more Japanese casualties.

Video embedded below.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Harry Truman Was Not a War Criminal
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1 comment:

  1. You make a good point. I am actually studying this right now, and I am in the process of writing an essay on the matter. You are right Harry Truman cannot really be considered a war criminal, but I do disagree the atomic bomb was necessary. Japan was already discussing their surrender with the Soviets, and the reason we did not accept this surrender was because they were not willing to give up their emperor. I agree though it was a tough decision for Truman, and he made what he thought was the right choice, but the bomb could have been dropped many other places. Tokyo for example was already crumbling, and dropping the bomb on Tokyo would have won us the war. Instead we decided to first bomb Hiroshima which was known to have a military base, but the bomb was not even dropped close which still leaves me to question our motives for dropping the bomb. But we will never really know the truth about this, all we can really do is speculate.


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