Seventy years ago today, on August 6, 1945, President Truman made the decision to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The second would follow two days later, and the world would be forever changed.
The decision to drop the bombs came from the assumption that the Japanese empire would likely never surrender to put an end to World War II. Japanese culture is built on pride and honor, and their soldiers fought in the same manner. U.S. military experts believed that a land invasion of Japan would be far too costly in terms of American lives. It was decided that the bomb would effectively end the war in favor of the Americans. But politicians and experts have argued for seven decades since: was it worth it?
The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the first and only atom bombs ever used in warfare. While the civilian casualties were terribly catastrophic, their use showed the world exactly what destruction mankind was capable of. This is my personal opinion – but I believe the sole reason we made it through the Cold War and have made it to this day without another atomic bomb is because of fear. Fear kept both the U.S. and the Soviets from destroying each other. I can’t say for sure (because who really can), but I believe if the Iranians or the North Koreans have in fact developed weapons-grade uranium, they might not actually deploy atomic weapons either. The notion of such widespread destruction with an added 70 years of scientific and technological advancement is almost too much to handle.
The 140,000 Japanese that died as a result of a direct hit or of radiation-related causes are a tragedy. However, their deaths may not have been in vain. A memorial ceremony was held this morning in Japan to commemorate the anniversary. It was attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matusi, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (yes, daughter of JFK) in both commemoration and a call to disarmament.
“To coexist,” the Prime Minister said, “we must abolish the ultimate inhumanity that is nuclear weapons. Now is the time to start taking action.”