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Sujeeth Narra May 1, 2002

3. Argue either for or against this statement: “President Truman’s decision to use the

atomic bomb was completely justified.”

No matter how this statement is debated, the fact is the United States made a bold

and forward statement when it unleashed a “weapon of mass destruction” upon the

Japanese empire. On August 6th and 9th of 1945, the U.S. stamped it’s authority on the

world by dropping two atomic devices on the respective cities of Hiroshima and

Nagasaki. The U.S. justification for these actions depended on the costs and probable

casualties of other means of pressuring the Japanese to surrender.

The U.S.’s path to victory in the Pacific is justified when compared to other

suggested plans. Alternate plans would have meant high casualty rates and costs for both

the Allies and the Japanese. Plans to “island hop” to the Japanese main islands would

have dragged on the war as well as costing the United States thousands of men and a

great amount of supplies. As one marine stated, “Make no mistake about it, the Japanese

were great fighters and everyone respected … them and feared them. They fought like

[crazy] for Iwo [Jima]…, a two-and-a-half-mile long piece of volcanic sand and rock.

What are they going to fight like in the home islands?” Based on similar reasoning, the

number of American lives to be placed in danger due to this plan could have reached a

number as high as 1 million.

Another point in favor of dropping the atomic bombs included American pride.

The U.S. chose the option that would save face of the nation, preventing international

ridicule and preserving the nation’s power status it had just earned by aiding in the defeat
of Germany. Also, preventing the war from continuing further would elevate the

impression the U.S. had on other European nations.

One final reason for Truman’s inability to prevent the bombing was the sheer cost

and man-hours invested into the development of the project. The countries resources had

been focused so greatly on this one project alone, it is hypothesized that the cost of the

project today would exceed $20 billion dollars. When compared to modern day costs of

other equipment during WWII such as mines, smaller bombs, and grenades ($31.5

billion), small arms ($24 billion), tanks ($64 billion), and heavy artillery ($4 billion)*, it

is easily seen how important the project was considered to be by the brass of the United

States.

These three major points helped to push the U.S. to employ its latest and greatest

weapon in the quest for world peace. The country’s actions and the President’s decision

were fairly justified, bearing in mind the chance of success of alternate plans, the need for

the country to protect its image, and the monetary resources previously consumed to

develop the weapon.

*Information borrowed from

http://www.brook.edu/dybdocroot/FP/PROJECTS/NUCWCOST/MANHATTN.HTM