Monday, 20 July 2009
The Necessary Evil?
It is hard not to have some sort of opinion on Truman's decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Japan in 1945. The question is; what opinion should we have? What opinion is the PC one? Does what you think depend on whether you're an American or Japanese?
I have always felt immense sympathy for the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-but then I think about the 'what ifs?' What if Truman had decided not to use the A-Bomb and had gone for full scale invasion instead?-it would have meant the death of an estimated 1/4 million to 1 million American troops. Would that have been the more humane alternative? I'm not quite sure. After all, the Japanese did attack the US first and, three months after the end of war in Europe, Japan was still carrying on the fight in the Pacific. The war needed to be put to an end and the Japanese were given ample time to surrender. But, the Japanese had always had a militaristic attitude; after all, they were fighting for an Emperor who they believed was a God on earth-they were fighting for their rights, their beliefs, and themselves. Even school children were being trained with bamboo spears to kill any enemy they may come across in an invasion of their land.
The atomic bomb was a new and immensely powerful weapon with a destructive force equivalent to a 2,000-bomber raid. One bomb of this capability had never been tested on humans before-just in the deserts of New Mexico. A select number of people knew what the bomb could do in terms of destruction but they were not fully sure of the after effects it would have on humans.
"In the first billionth of a second of the bomb impacting the temperature reaches 60 million degrees centigrade, 10,000 times hotter than the sun's surface. Within the first 3 seconds, thousands of people are incinerated, carbonised into charred smoking bundles. Birds ignite in mid-air. Steel-framed buildings liquefy like wax...Hundreds of radioactive isotopes spill out of the fireball [that followed], penetrating flesh and bone...Perhaps 80,000 people died in those first seconds after the blast. Thousands more would die later from burns and radiation poisoning".
It is the awful after effects of the bomb, like radiation sickness, that makes me think whether dropping the bomb was the right decision or not-I guess it's hard for me to have a worthy opinion on this with me being neither American nor Japanese.
But I would like to know what you all think about this topic...
Quote taken from BBC History Magazine, Vol 6, no 8, August 2005