Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War
I disagree with my ancestor's attitude because I don't think the atomic bomb should have even been considered as a war tactic during WW2, if it can really be called that, nor should it be used again, tested, or developed further. I would evaluate my ancestor's attitude as an unfortunate product of the time: a time in which both nuclear scientists and (especially) the public knew very little about the long-lasting effects and the harm it would do, as well as the repercussions, not just for Japan as the first nation victimized, but for the entire world.
I don't think dropping the bomb should even be considered today. I understand why the bomb was dropped, but I don't think it was reasonable, even with what we know about Japan's war crimes. If the United States really cared about the human rights violations being committed by the Japanese government, it wouldn't have recruited Unit 731 scientists rather than prosecuting them. It wouldn't have withheld and continue to withhold the research from Unit 731 that continues to allow the Japanese government to deny the existence of such experiments. It wouldn't be hiding, or have condoned in the first place, the sex trade in Korea that was built for American soldiers which permitted the use of Korean women as sexual slaves: a crime we condemn the Japanese for. It was a rash decision in the midst of a horrible war, but that does not excuse it in the slightest, and labeling it as such might take away from the seriousness of it as a deliberate action. We should absolutely be second guessing a decision that left tens of thousands of people dead, or dying from diseases caused by radiation. And the context of the situation, should not and does not protect the United States and Harry Truman from criticism about resorting to an unforgivable and inexcuseable crime.
If the bomb had been available in April 1945, I am quite sure the bomb would not have been used against Germany because compared to Japan, Germany was a lot closer to innocent nations: those which had been forcibly occupied by the Nazis. Furthermore, the decision to drop the bomb in Europe would be significantly more unpopular in the United States because Americans would fear for the safety of the innocent Europeans or maybe even deem the treatment too harsh for the Germans, whereas anti-Japanese propaganda and racism made it not a problem when it came to dropping it on Japan. Moreover, by April 1945, the allies were planning to and already starting to invade Germany so dropping an atomic bomb would likely harm their military forces or make it near impossible to invade after, though I am unsure whether the U.S. even realized this. Japan was the perfect guinea pig for the United States to test out this horrific weapon on and to make into an example for the rest of the world (especially the USSR).
Using the Marshall Islands as nuclear test sites was not worth doing nor justifiable. The atomic bomb had already killed more than a hundred thousand people, which should have been the end of its use and development. If there was the need for continued research, using an island on which people lived shouldn't have even been a consideration since there would be the risk, even if not taken seriously at the time, of displacing the island's residents and making the islands uninhabitable for an extended time, if not permanently. Moreoever, it becomes even more unjustifiable when it's made clear that the United States government was unwilling to ethically test atomic bombs, if such a thing is possible, which can be seen in how the government disregarded the long-term health of the some 4000 American troops who were tasked with cleaning up the now radioactive islands; many of whom would go on to develop medical conditions including brittle bones, various cancers, and birth defects in their children. If there was any "importance for the future of mankind" for testing nuclear weapons, it shouldn't have meant sacrificing the lives of people already living and forcing people to endure the consequences with no guarantee of a future benefit.
I would say that the atomic bomb was never necessary for ending the war (as Admiral William D. Leary said), nor that it has brought about progress that couldn't have been achieved through better, more peaceful methods. Furthermore, if the bomb has really proven itself impossible to use again, then why haven't we agreed globally to cease the storage and development of nuclear weapons? It is far from impossible for the bomb to be used again, and if it ever happens, there will be little hope for the future of humanity.