Why Were 2 Nuclear Bombs Used in WWII?

This past August 9th, 2016, was the 71st anniversary of the WWII nuclear bombing in Nagasaki, Japan, three days after the more well known Hiroshima bombing.

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The second bomb doesn’t get as much attention, since it’s the second instance. The first time it happened is what stays most in our minds, as per the anchoring or focusing effect cognitive bias. Yet, there have only ever been two nuclear bombs used against people, ever.

Nuclear bombs are horrible destructive devices that should never have existed.

This begs the question, why was Nagasaki bombed in the first place, given one was already used to demonstrate the power the US had?

Nagasaki was a backup choice, after cloud cover diverted the plane from bombing Kokura. But that doesn’t explain why it was used at all.

Excuse:

It was necessary to prove the US had more bombs ready, or could create more if required.

BS Called:

It’s an assumption to think the Japanese wouldn’t consider the US capable of having already, or couldn’t in the future, produce more nuclear bombs.

Fat Man plutonium bomb used on Nagasaki

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Excuse:

The Japanese didn’t surrender quickly enough.

BS Called:

They just go bombed, were assessing how bad it was, and maybe the above is true that they were thinking over if the US could do it to them more. But maybe 3 days isn’t long enough? Is one day long enough? How about 0 days to make a decision to bomb the Japanese a second time?

According to Leslie R. Groves in Now it Can be Told, the story of the Manhattan project, admits he told Brigadier General Thomas Farrell that the war is over "after we drop two bombs on Japan," in response to Farrell who initially said "the war is over". Some people already had made up their minds that they wanted to attack Japan again. Would Japan surrendering immediately have made a difference?

The army has long said both bombings helped to save American and Japanese lives, in the long run, as opposed to a longer running war.

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Excuse:

The nuclear bombs helped saved American and Japanese lives, it was an act of mercy.

BS Called:

Vaporizing 250,000 civilians was a act of mercy… right. And 9/11 was a blessing. Orwellian anyone? Look at how the USA took that day with over 3,000 dead. There is a hug difference in levels of destruction, yet people want to brush it aside like nothing. And what’s worse, is some people, like politicians, talk about using nuclear bombs like nothing, when they are the most horrible destructive weapon humans have created.

But the truth has since come out from top officials during WWII.

“Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped”
U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey Report, July 1946

At the time of WWII, General Dwight D. Eisenhower later recounted his thoughts in a piece by Newsweek called “Ike on Ike”, in 1963:

“The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

Admiral Leahy, the highest ranking military official from 1942 to 1949, said in I Was There / William D. Leahy:

“It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.”

Another famous military man, General Douglas MacArthur agreed saying he said "no military justification for the dropping of the bomb."

There are more people who agree that the bombings didn’t need to take place, certainly not two.

So why were cities of unarmed nonmilitary populations chosen as the targets?

The military didn’t think targeting military or non lethal areas for atomic demonstration would suffice to convince the Japanese to surrender.

Historians agree, like Doug Long, who quotes J. Samuel Walker’s book “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update”:

“The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan and to end the war within a relatively short time. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisors knew it.”

The reason the bombs were dropped can vary according to who answers. But certain members of the government, military, engineers and scientists involved, wanted it to be used, and not just once. They wanted a weapon to quell any enemy at any time.

According to one book, Einstein says in defense of many scientists and military officers against the bombings:

“A great majority of scientists were opposed to the sudden employment of the atom bomb.” In Einstein’s judgment, the dropping of the bomb was a political – diplomatic decision rather than a military or scientific decision. There was no real military need for it. It was all about politics and power, the lifeblood of civilization it seems…

Either way, many people saw it was not needed, but it was used anyways, because the people in power like power and like to show their power. They wanted to flex it and show the world their big muscles.

And we saw how many nuclear bombs have been built in the world since then. The insanity of humanity, collecting radioactive material from all over the world and concentrating into an area making it an anti-life substance. Now we have enough muscle power to rip ourselves apart. Fun isn’t it? Wise minds? I think not.

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We currently have over 15,000 nuclear bombs on this planet from 9 countries alone. And 93% of them come from the USA and Russia. All thanks to the fear and paranoia of the Cold War that came after WWII.

In light of the drive for using nuclear bombs, it might be more pertinent to ask why they stopped using the bombs after in Japan, or in the rest of the world. Perhaps they realized themselves, or they had to pay attention to the public outcry in the world, the horrors of the bombing destruction.

Some good news or a positive light to end it with, is how Nagasaki has rebuilt and looks now. It is a thriving city with a vibrant tourist economy.

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One comment

  • Peter

    Great article. People forget that there were other options available at the time. There are always other options.

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