Many debates have been provoked based on President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The debate is not solely based on the bomb being dropped, but more on the actual necessity and intention of the bomb being dropped.
I believe that the Presidents decision was based dually on military necessity and on the Nation’s reputation. Truman was not a dumb man; he was inexperienced and quickly expected to make important decisions based on very little information that he had been recently made aware of. I believe that his first thought was to just end the War. I do not think he felt the need for Stalin’s admission, but did not turn down the extra support for ending the war quickly.
Truman, I believe, wanted the war over with the least amount of American blood shed. I believe that with the help of his trusted advisors, he saw that the dropping of the bomb was a faster, more effective way to end with the least amount of U.S. casualties that was available. The idea of a Soviet Union invasion probably did not settle well for the President on different levels. The first would be allies and American blood and casualties being too high. The other most prominent one, in my mind, is the idea of some one else winning the war that we have been most leading warriors in.
This thought brings me to my next motive of why Truman might have dropped the bomb. I do not think Truman was unaware of the lasting effects of the atom bomb, but by the time these facts were presented to him, piled upon facts about the actual bomb and the projects supporting them, it was to late to change his decision. He needed to save face for America (which brings me to the next motive of pressure) even if it public opinion was not his main concern. Truman did not want to look soft upon the Japanese, something further consideration and negation of the plan to bomb would have caused in some officials eye’s. Also, Truman and much of the rest of the nation did not like seeing the U.S. as moral failures like many other nations. Who knows what the reaction to the President’s decision would have been like if he had decided to let an invasion with hundreds and thousands of our men involved take place.
As previously mentioned, I also believed a motive for dropping the bomb was most definitely pressure from many people in power who surrounded him. Many officials did not want Stalin’s presence in the War so they felt that the quickest way to force surrender was the bomb. Also, even more people wanted to show that the United States means business, and when the U.S. is involved in something, she will come out victorious. Truman most certainly did not want to be the President who did not support this attitude completely.
I will not deny that one of the less significant, but still important motives must have been the need to shock Stalin and the Soviet Union on several levels. Truman most likely liked the idea of being the first in a short to begin race of atomic power. I am also sure that he wanted to prove that the United States could finish battles with a little power under our sleeve. And, I am also certain that Truman and his board were not only looking to shock the Soviet Union but also to shock the world with our power. We were about to face the change from isolation to the heavy weight power of the world, why not do it with a “bang.”
Truman was a young (knowledge and experience wise) president thrown into a situation every president dreads and was forced to deal with ground breaking technology as one way to end this situation. As a spectator only slightly effected by his decision, I think he did what much of his nation and his supporters expected of him.
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