Hiroshima August 7, 1945The detonation of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima was a deeply sobering event for all Mankind. The fact that man was capable of building a weapon with this kind of power meant that humans now had the ability to destroy every living thing on this planet. War-Related Disaster— Nuclear Weapons
August 6 and 9 are the 63rd anniversaries of the destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs and the murder of hundreds of thousands of their citizens. Annual demonstrations take place at the nuclear weapons laboratories in Livermore, California and Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the nuclear weapons test site in Nevada and at the bomb factory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to demand nuclear disarmament now.
One of the long-standing myths of U.S. history is that atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to “save lives.” The story is that the bombings, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, were necessary to bring World War II to an end.
In reality, the decision was purely political. Leading generals and admirals opposed the bombing. It was ordered to demonstrate the ruthlessness of the U.S. government.
Ronald Takaki wrote, in his article on the subject in the July 31, 2005 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, “During the days before that fateful Aug. 6, 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur learned that Japan had asked Russia to negotiate a surrender. ‘We expected acceptance of the Japanese surrender daily,’ one of his staff members recalled. When he was notified that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, the general was livid. MacArthur declared that the atomic attack on Hiroshima was ‘completely unnecessary from a military point of view.’”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of allied forces in Europe and later president of the U.S., also called it “completely unnecessary” and later told an interviewer,” It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” Fleet Admiral William Leahy, the president’s chief of staff, believed that Japan would fall without the necessity of a land invasion. Leahy later wrote that, in dropping the bomb, “we had adopted an ethical standard common to barbarians of the dark ages.” (Eisenhower and Leahy quotes found at: HIROSHIMAWHO DISAGREED WITH THE ATOMIC BOMBING?Why they did it.)
Why then did the president make the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima? In fact Truman gave an order not to bomb Nagasaki. A memo published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (May/June 1998), states that Truman “had given orders to stop atomic bombing. He said the thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible. He didn’t like the idea of killing, as he said, ‘all those kids.’” Dirty Harry in San Francisco
So why was the bomb dropped? Why were Truman’s orders on the second bomb not obeyed?
“Secretary of War Henry Stimson, for his part, regarded the atomic bomb as what he called the ‘master card’ of diplomacy towards Russia. However, he believed that sparring with the Soviet Union in the early spring, before the weapon was demonstrated, would be counterproductive. Before a mid-May meeting of a cabinet-level committee considering Far Eastern issues, Stimson observed that “the questions cut very deep and [were] powerfully connected with our success with S-1 [the atomic bomb Gar Alperovitz, in “Hiroshima: Historians Reassess” Foreign Policy (Summer 1995) No. 99: 15-34, where it is only available to subscribers; the section quoted is available online at page 4. A web version of the article on can be found at the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives website.
These new facts from history and Eisenhower’s memoirs show that the carnage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not to make Japan surrender and save American lives, but to warn the Soviet Union that the United States had the atomic bomb and its leaders were cold-blooded enough to use such a weapon of mass destruction. It was the opening salvo of the, “Cold War” and beginning of the process of “Pax Americana.”