The dropping of two atomic bombs that detonated over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th of August 1945 caused the immediate deaths of 200,000 people besides those injured, the destroyed families, the ecological disaster and the humiliation of an entire people.
We know that the official version given by the Truman government was that it was a necessary act to speed up the end of the war and thereby prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in a Japanese invasion. Beyond the moral condemnation of the use of a weapon of mass destruction, the explanation given by the then US government has been widely studied and questioned by numerous and detailed historical studies.
There is no doubt that the Japanese government was ready to surrender back in April 1945 and was working continuously in that direction. The Americas were well informed about it. The use of the bombs was unnecessary to bring an end to the war and both historians and the vast majority of US Army leaders agree on this point. General Dwight Eisenhower expressed it clearly: “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” The United States Strategic Bombing Survey pointed out that: “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”
General George C. Marshall, defender of the use of the bomb, declared that the decision wasn’t a military one but rather a political one. There is agreement between the majority of studies on this point. Different are, however, the interpretations for the reasons that the USA had for making such a terrible resolution. According to some, they wanted to experiment to see what the effects of a weapon that had taken years of work and prodigious economic resources were. Other studies maintain that the determining factor was that the Soviet Union was becoming a great empire, occupying a large part of Eastern Europe and moreover on the point of invading Japan. So, it is affirmed that in reality the bomb was used with the Soviet Union in mind and represented not so much the end of the Second World War but the start of the Cold War.
But it doesn’t take a specialised study for anyone to have an immediate intuition of the cruelty that the use of the atomic bombs signified. The USA didn’t bomb strategic targets from a military point of view such as weapons factories, electricity power stations, bridges or airports. And if they had wanted to show the monstrous weapon they had in their possession, it would have been enough to drop them on military positions or semi-desert areas. In reality the bombs were targeted at those who didn’t die, at the Japanese people and the rest of the world. And this is the characteristic of an act of terror: not directly hitting your enemy, but rather innocent people with the aim of creating terror. They intentionally wanted to hit the defenceless civilian population, choosing not one but two heavily populated cities.
It wasn’t a decision to end a war, but rather a deliberately cruel act to show off their strength. It was a threat and a warning to the whole world. The two atomic bombs that were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and 9th of August 1945 represent the greatest acts of terrorism in human history. Moreover they paved the way for a frenetic nuclear arms race and the possibility of using them again: a terror that still remains today and manifests as the nightmare of a possible nuclear war.
If the atomic bomb had been used by Germany, without doubt it would have been condemned as a war crime. The same opinion would have been held by the international community if the atomic bomb had been used by the Soviet Union.
Any State could in future decide to use nuclear weapons, justifying their choice with the paradoxical “humanitarian” necessity to rapidly resolve a conflict in order to limit the number of victims.
The United States has a responsibility to recognise this cruel crime and officially apologise to Japan. Only through recognising one’s own errors can one avoid repeating them. The International Criminal Court must condemn the events of 1945 as war crimes against humanity.
– Mark Weber. Was Hiroshima Necessary? Why the Atomic Bombings Could Have Been Avoided
– U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey: The Effects of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
– John Pilger. The lies of Hiroshima live on, props in the war crimes of the 20th century
– Gar Alperovitz. The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth
– Peter Kuznick – Oliver Stone. The Untold History of the United States
– Dennis D. Wainstock. The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb