Just exactly what distinguishes the United States’ use of the ever-so-cutely-named “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” atomic bombs on cities in Japan from the car bombs of Baghdad or the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center? To even raise the question, as was found in one recent university case, can be a career-ending move.
Of course, we had our justifications, as terrorists always do. Truman defended his decision to drop the atomic bombs on civilians over the objection of leading atomic scientists on the grounds that it was a necessary military action to save lives by forcing a quick Japanese surrender. He insisted on that imperative despite the objections of top military figures, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who contended that the war would end quickly without dropping the bomb.
The subsequent release of formerly secret documents makes a hash of Truman’s rationalization. His White House was fully informed that the Japanese were on the verge of collapse, and their surrender was made all the more likely by the Soviets’ imminent entry into the fight.
At most, the Japanese were asking for the face-saving gesture of retaining their emperor, and even that modest demand would likely have been abandoned with the shift of massive numbers of Allied troops and firepower from the battlefront of a defeated Germany to a confrontation with its deeply wounded Asian ally.
Instead, the U.S. played midwife to the birth of the nuclear monster, the ultimate terrorist weapon that presents a continuing and growing threat to the survival of human life on Earth.
This is a lesson to be pondered at a time when President Bush plays power games with a nuclear-equipped Russia while coddling Pakistan, the main proliferator of nuclear weapons to rogue regimes, and Congress authorizes an expansion of the U.S. nuclear program to better fight the war on terror READ MORE