On August 6, 1945, the world entered the Atomic Age. Without warning, a single nuclear bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing about 90,000 people instantly and injuring many others — who died from radiation sickness soon after. Three days later, a second atomic strike on the city of Nagasaki killed some 37,000 people and injured another 43,000. Together, the two bombs eventually killed an estimated 200,000 Japanese civilians.
“The Library of Congress adds roughly 60 million pages to its holdings each year, a huge cache of information for the public. However, also each year, the U.S. Government classifies nearly ten times that amount – an estimated 560 million pages of documents. For scholars engaged in political, historical, scientific, or any other archival work, the grim reality is that most of their government’s activities are secret.”
– Richard Dolan, historian, author
(You can read more about what is known as the “Black Budget” here.)
The point above is significant. How can we really know anything about American history if a considerable portion of it remains classified, and when we have so many examples of dishonesty and misinformation? What will the history books say about 9/11? We will have to wait and see, but what our history books tell us about the atomic bomb and why it was dropped seems to be a complete lie, at least according to some very credible sources.
We are often taught that the use of the atomic bomb was necessary to end the war with Japan at the earliest possible moment, but judging by the statements of many high ranking political and military personnel, this is simply not the case.
General/President Dwight Eisenhower discusses this in his 1963 memoir, The White House Years: Mandate for Change, 1953-1956 (pp. 312-313). When he was informed in mid-July 1945 by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson of the decision to use the atomic bomb, he was deeply troubled:
During his [Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”
“The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing … I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.” (source)
Given what I mentioned at the start of this article, I think it’s also important to note that Eisenhower also said, in his farewell address:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. . . . Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful message and goals. (source)
Did this “misplaced power” influence the decision to drop the atomic bomb? It’s impossible to say for sure, but it seems absurd to not consider the possibility.
“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men’s views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the U.S., in the field of commerce and manufacturing, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
– Woodrow Wilson, from his book The New Freedom (1913)
Another great example comes from General Douglas MacArthur, who sent a 40-page memorandum to President Roosevelt that clearly outlines five different surrender overtures from high ranking Japanese officials. This memo was also revealed on the front page of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times on August 19th, 1945.
Again, the memo unequivocally states that the Japanese were offering to surrender. What is even more eye-opening is the fact that the surrender terms were practically identical to what was ultimately accepted by the Americans after the bomb had dropped. These include:
- Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
- Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
- Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea, and Taiwan.
- Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war
- Release of all prisoners of war and internees
- Surrender of designated war criminals (source)
Japan also made multiple attempts to end the war through Sweden and Portugal, who were neutral at the time. They also approached Soviet Russia’s leaders “with a view of terminating the war if possible by September.”
Here is a quote from Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Ellis Zacharias:
Just when the Japanese were ready to capitulate, we went ahead and introduced to the world the most devastating weapon it had ever seen and, in effect, gave the go-ahead to Russia to swarm over Eastern Asia.
Washington decided that Japan had been given its chance and now it was time to use the A-bomb.
I submit that it was the wrong decision. It was wrong on strategic grounds. And it was wrong on humanitarian grounds. (source)
Similarly, Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, later commented:
It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children. (source)
And on September 9, 1945, Admiral William F. Halsey, commander of the Third Fleet, was publicly quoted as saying that the atomic bomb was used because the scientists had a “toy and they wanted to try it out.” He further stated that “the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment” and that it was “a mistake to ever drop it.” (source)
The scientists involved with the Manhattan project even wrote to the Secretary of Defense to try to encourage him not to drop the bomb.
So ask yourself, why did they really drop the bomb? A number of theories have been proposed. Many suggest it could have been dropped to demonstrate a new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviets, ultimately serving as a show of military strength. In 2005, New Scientist made this very argument, claiming that it was done to kickstart the Cold War.
“The conventional wisdom that the atomic bomb saved a million lives is so widespread that (quite apart from the inaccuracy of this figure, as noted by Samuel Walker) most Americans haven’t paused to ponder something rather striking to anyone seriously concerned with the issue: Not only did most top U.S. military leaders think the bombings were unnecessary and unjustified, many were morally offended by what they regarded as the unnecessary destruction of Japanese cities and what were essentially noncombat populations. Moreover, they spoke about it quite openly and publicly.”
– Gar Alperovitz, University of Maryland Professor of Political Economy, former Legislative Director in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and Special Assistant in the Department of State (source)
What’s My Point?
What I am trying to do here is get readers to think. If it was clearly unnecessary to drop the bomb, if it didn’t have to be done, then what is the justification? Despite fierce opposition from various military and political leaders and Japan’s willingness to surrender, it was still dropped.
War does not serve a purpose in our world, but the unfortunate reality is that there are many people who thrive and profit off of conflict. 9/11 is a perfect example — a supposed ‘terrorist’ attack used to justify the infiltration of the Middle East.
There are more oddities, like the information suggesting that both sides of the war were funded by the same group. You can read more about that here.
Have we learned from our mistake? The fact that nuclear weapons even exist is a discouraging fact, and I am ashamed to be part of a race that has developed so many of them. It would be great if we could use our brilliant minds/science to advance ourselves as a civilization, not destroy it.
We need to learn from our history, not accept textbook explanations that paint a false picture of it. That being said, we have come a long way since 1945; it’s clear that the majority of people on this planet prefer to live in a peaceful world, so why are there so many obstacles in place preventing us from doing so?
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