65 years to the day after the bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, one has to ask still, why the Japanese clung so tenaciously to non-surrender, especially after such devastating military losses, fire-bombings of Tokyo and other large cities, and a nuclear blast that flattened Hiroshima 3 days earlier.
Japan had a figure head emperor but had been slowly taken over by a military government. The people were far removed and had been convinced that they must fight hand to hand, if necessary, to the death to protect their homeland and the Emperor. Until the surrender, the Japanese people had never heard their Emperor’s voice.
Why wasn’t the bomb on Hiroshima enough to make believers out of the Japanese government? Common thought was that they thought the bomb was an anomaly. They didn’t realize we had more. Would we have dropped a third bomb on another city? Did we even have more atomic bombs?
Nagasaki was the last nuclear weapon used by the United States in combat. That’s really something to think about. The big worry now is that rogue nations like Iran, with unstable dictators at the helm, will get hold of nuclear weapons and wreak havic on the the world. Iran and North Korea both continue to threaten the more stable nations of the world with threats of nuclear holocaust. There is also the fear that terrorist groups could obtain enough nuclear material to do significant damage.
Many, many years later, the debate rages on about our moral complicity over the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don’t believe there was complicity. The American people had no idea about the Manhattan project. The project was very compartmentalized so that even the people who worked directly on the bomb had no idea what the overall plan was. Churchill knew about the bomb. Stalin did not. In fact, Truman didn’t know about the bomb until after he became president. FDR had not advised his own vice president. Many historians have argued that dropping the atomic bomb saved several million Japanese lives and over a million American lives.
I am not sure I am ready to believe the projections about the saved lives. However, in summer of 1945, my father was on the west coast of the United States, in all probability ready to be shipped out for the invasion of Japan. How do I feel about dropping an atomic weapon on a civilian population? I am not a fair person to ask. I have a vested interest. If it had not happened, I very well might not be a part of this conversation.