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“That was the longest 45 seconds that I ever lived” those were the words of then Colonel Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Boeing B-29 named Enola Gay, describing the period that went by waiting for the bomb to explode. Imagine this, a family setting in the comfort of their home, their children playing, all the adults engaging in the usual morning festivities, not knowing that within moments their entire world was going to change, flashing before their eyes, this event all became more than a reality for over tens of thousands of people in the city of Hiroshima, Japan at approximately 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945. This event has become a focus on the history of the United States, there have been perspectives, many outlooks, on an event that has sewn itself into the historical timeline of the United States, as well as Japan.
The decision to have the Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima proved to spark a lot of controversies. Was dropping the Atomic bomb morally justified? Did the “innocent” have to pay the price for a campaign, they had little to no say in? There is an endless number of questions, and twice as many answers as to what the correct decision should have been. After the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, it then became President Harry Truman’s responsibility on how to bring closure to the war. Many people have voiced their opinion opposing the use of the Atomic bomb, likewise, there have been many who supported the decision. The decision of dropping the bomb was supported by many political and military leaders such as Army Chief of Staff George Marshall, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, just to reference a select few. The end of the war was nowhere near, it was apparent something had to be done, and fast. That is where the Atomic bomb came into play. Congressional leaders, military leaders, scientists, and many other great minds had decided the only way to end the war and prevent more American bloodshed was to drop the bomb. This proved to be a rather successful tactic, on September 2, 1945, Japan officially surrendered, and a verbal surrender and agreement were made by Japan’s Emperor Hirohito on August 14, 1945.
“The thing of it is, there is no morality in warfare, that’s where you start,” said Brigadier General Paul Tibbets in an interview, these are strong words spoken by a man who was at the forefront of the moment that shocked the world. Even though Tibbet’s and the crew of Enola Gay actions essentially provoked the surrender of Japan, not everyone was in agreeance with this. Some of the people on record stating that the Atomic bomb was not militarily strategic and morally wrong were Admiral William Halsey, ADM William Leahy, and ADM Chester Nimitz as well as General Douglas MacArthur and General Dwight Eisenhower. Admiral William Leahy even went so far as to voice his opposition of the Atomic bomb in his book “I Was There” he stated, “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”. It is safe to say a great amount of the opposition believes that the attack on non-combatants was unconditional.
Talking about the Atomic bomb, Hiroshima, and even Nagasaki it is hard to not notice the number of political implications that came from the decisions that were made. The first political implication I believe that came from the Atomic bomb, is the intimidation factor it brought to the world. Japan issued a message of surrender only eight days after the initial bomb was dropped. This led to many other implications from various countries around the world. It undoubtingly led to a Nuclear outcry, there are an estimated 13,000 plus nuclear warheads, spread out through 9 countries. There have been numerous scares of nuclear use over the last decade from countries such as North Korea, so I believe this really shows how politics work and how one decision years ago ultimately lays the guidelines for the future. Fast forward from 1945 to 2020 and we have the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which over 84 countries have signed. The desire to ban Nuclear weapons has been a long-time goal of many countries and their dream is slowly coming true. The 50th ratification of the TPNW has been reached which now places it as international law. This is the perfect example in my opinion of a political implication that we are still living with today!
In my conclusion, there are many theories, opinions, and judgments that surround President Harry Truman’s decision to have the Atomic bombs released on Hiroshima, as well as Nagasaki. All though there will probably never be a steadfast agreement on the situation, I think investing the time to research and find an understanding of his reasoning is much needed by all. Where some might not agree with President Truman’s decision, I believe it was the correct resolution. I believe the verdict had to be made for the Japanese surrender, many believe they would have surrendered soon regardless. Whereas we can all speculate about Japan’s possibility of surrender, the Atomic bomb removed all speculation. Although somewhat a cliché’ saying, I wholeheartedly believe that freedom isn’t free. In retrospect I do respect the ideas and theories of those who oppose the thought that the Atomic bomb needed to be dropped, that is their right, and some very valid points have been made about the subject. As previously stated, I believe Brigadier General Paul Tibbets honestly said it best with his quote “The thing of it is, there is no morality in warfare, that’s where you start”.
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