posts 16 - 21 of 21
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War

If I were the great-grandchild of the person who decided to drop the atomic bombs on Japan I would not agree with their decision or perspective to use the weapon. And the key to understanding their decision to use the weapon, lies in identifying the reasoning and context of WWII, American involvement in the war, and American society during this time period. I do not think that there is one dominant, overarching factor that can explain why this decision was made - various reasons contributed to it. Some of this reasoning included wanting to grow American patriotism and nationalism by swiftly ending a war that had engulfed the entire planet. The reasoning was to show America’s strength to the world and prove that they had the power to destroy entire cities. The reasoning included fear, and on top of this, blatant racism. There is no questioning that these factors contributed to their final decision to use the atomic weapons, but moreover we mustn’t allow ourselves to simply identify, note that they are why our ancestors did this, and move on. If anything, that is the wrong way to view them.

If we are to fully understand this perspective, and analyze the consequences of it, we must carry with us the same awareness in our society today, as we do looking back on these events. We must understand this reasoning because if such sentiment is still present today (which it absolutely is), would it not stop influencing people to make the same decision yet again? And if that is in fact a possibility, how do we reconcile with that? We all know that history repeats itself, so would it be unrealistic to say that this could happen once, twice, many times more if that same reasoning still exists in the people in positions to make such decisions? I think that it is a possibility. And it is a very concerning possibility to think about.

I do not see the dropping of the bomb as a reasonable way to end the war in the Pacific. That decision was wrong. Blatantly. Yes it did end the war, but at what cost? In response to the question: “Was it justifiable, given what we know of Japan’s horrific treatment of its subjugated populations?” I say that it was absolutely not justifiable. You cannot compare apples to oranges because they are two different things. You cannot compare different methods of utter destruction against each other because it is beyond demeaning to the victims and individuals who experienced such horrors. They are incomparable because they are two different things. You cannot weigh two evils against one another and expect to see a level scale. What the Japanese did in Nanjing, and in China was evil. It was atrocious, it was heinous, and it was a testament to some of the most disgusting behaviors human beings are capable of, as was the treatment of the comfort women. But we cannot use these evils and crimes against humanity as excuses to commit more evils and crimes against humanity. You cannot justify the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the mass murder of 200,000 by comparing it to a separate, other atrocities. It is invalidation to the victims. It is sinister. It is childish, immature, and vile to compare apples to oranges and use that as a justification of mass murder. Because the Japanese army committed that atrocity does not justify us to commit another one. It never will, because no matter how hard you try, you cannot fight against atrocities by committing more atrocities.

I firmly believe that the bomb would not have been dropped on Germany, and I think that the reason this could never happen is rooted in Anti-Asian racism in America. The Second World War brought about a time of unprecedented Anti-Asian hate in America, which we looked at earlier this year regarding the Japanese Internment Camps, hate crimes against East-Asian people regardless of whether they were Japanese or not, and institutionalized, lawful discrimination and racism against Japanese-Americans. None of that happened for German-Americans. While propaganda was used against both countries, regarding Japan, almost all of the propaganda we looked at earlier this year was stripping Japanese people of their status as human beings. Portraying them as animals, monsters, aliens. That level of dehumanization being forefronted across the country is why the bombs were dropped on Japan. Because the mentality of the people who decided to drop the bomb, and of the majority of white America at the time, was essentially: “Who cared if they died. It didn’t matter if they were killed, they're not humans. They’re not ‘like us,’” Note the us/them mentality. The same sentiment simply did not apply to German people. And for this reason, the bomb would not have been dropped, because they were seen as essentially more human than the Japanese. And that is the reality that this country must attest to. We must face this history as a country because if we don’t, and we continue to defend the position that it was right to drop the bomb - we forward the racism that brought us to that position. That is something I will not do, and it is up to us as individuals and citizens of the country that committed these actions to educate ourselves on this, and to face our nation's history.

The use of the bombs to end the war worked. That is not something that can be questioned. However, what we must question is should we resort to such methods to end wars. I think that the use of nuclear weapons on Japan did show the world how terrible these weapons are and the effects to which they should not be used again. But has this stopped countries from manufacturing more bombs? Has it stopped from advancing atomic weaponry to such an extent that we have the power to create a hydrogen bomb with an explosion 1,000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No it hasn’t. Yes, knowing the consequences of the use of such bombs has proven (so far) and resulted in no explosion or attack since. But I would not use this as a guarantee that it could never happen again.

In another testament to our nation's past of the use of nuclear weapons, we look at the case of Bikini Atoll and nuclear testing that occurred there and the displacement of peoples in the Pacific. I do not think that by any margins we can attest the future of mankind to these testing sites. And by saying the “future of mankind” are we talking about the people of Bikini Atoll? Are we talking about their future? Are we talking about the destruction we brought to their lives? Are we talking about how we uprooted their future, and how we destroyed their lives, their homes? Answer: no. That does not speak to the future of mankind to me. To me, that speaks to the future of racism, the future of dehumanization, and the future discrimination on many levels. If that is to become, and/or remain the future of mankind, how do we counter that? How do we fight that? We fight it, firstly, by facing this history. Because it is not the future of some, or the future of others, it is the future of ALL mankind that should be brought into question.

Boston , Massachusetts , US
Posts: 15

atomic bomb

I don’t blame my ancestors for their attitude towards the bomb, although they could’ve/should’ve been able to deduce that it was unethical to drop this on civilians, the government has a lot of elusive practices. Additionally, they were taught to be scared, the government was scaring the public into thinking that the Japanese were horrible people, making this bomb, a tad, more justifiable. Overall, I don’t think that I could fully blame my ancestor for working on this bomb/supporting it due to the way it was marketed to the public, and even the people working closely with it.

I do not think this decision was justified at all, war in itself is a crime against humanity, but consciously going after unsuspecting and innocent civilians is something that is completely irrational. Although, what the Japanese government did was unforgivable, the Japanese people were ruled by an absolute monarchy, leading these people to have little to no say in what the government did, making the targeting of civilians absolutely immoral.

No, I think that a big part of the bomb being used specifically against Japan was either conscious, or subconscious racism. Although the U.S. was fighting against Nazi ideals, there was and still is heavy anti-Jewish sentiment in American culture, this would’ve led the government to hold back on dropping this bomb on Germany, and its white citizens.

I don’t think that anything having to do with atomic bombs is “important for the future of mankind,” we absolutely do NOT need to be bombing, never mind, dropping atomic bombs that destroy cities and landscapes, for generations. Furthermore, the use of U.S. territories to test these bombs is another signifier of how the U.S. government views its territories as disposable and almost stripping them of their humanity, using their tiny islands as atomic testing sites, spreading nuclear radiation all over the islands. The lack of compassion for these people and the land is an exact representation of the U.S. government and where their loyalties lie.

I think that the bomb definitely used an insane amount of fear to end the war. The amount of casualties not only on the battlefield but also from the bomb, made it almost impossible for Japan to continue in the war, however, I don’t think talking about the bomb as this great thing that ended the war is fair. Painting this tragedy in this positive light is so insanely disrespectful to the victims and neglectful of the truth.

Pinyon Jay
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War

It would be difficult to evaluate my ancestor’s attitude and level of responsibility for the disastrous long-term effects of the bomb, as the priority was to end the war as quickly as possible and effectively intimidate the biggest rival in global power: Russia. My ancestor and everyone involved in the decision to drop the first atomic bomb were only interested in sparing innocent American lives, and innocent Japanese lives and Japanese culture altogether was the most alienated from the U.S. compared to any enemy population in Europe. Even without knowing all of the long term effects of radiation and degradation of the environment caused by the bomb, I feel that my ancestor and everyone involved should have thought it through more thoroughly.

Japan is certainly well known for its cruel and inhumane treatment of subjugated populations but two wrongs don’t make a right, and killing so many innocent civilians is not justifiable by Japan’s behavior.

If the bomb were made available in April 1945, it would most likely not have been used on Germany due to the stronger cultural ties and influences of eugenics in the U.S. Japan was targeted because its civilian population was easier for Americans to alienate and dehumanize.

The bombing of sites in the Marshall Islands was not worth doing, especially because of the sheer number of bombing tests and the foundation of knowledge of the capacity for destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was more awareness of the devastation nuclear bombing could cause on the environment and population, and yet these sites were bombed 67 times. The experiments on the Marshall Islands were selfishly targeted because the U.S. did not want to risk its own land.

To the argument of the bomb resulting in unprecedented progress, I think that a lot within those 75 years of progress has been unnecessary and time/resource consuming arms-races that didn’t actually benefit anyone in the end. The decision of a few people has resulted in a constant inescapable threat of nuclear war that becomes more real as global powers develop their nuclear arsenals even more.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

How do I evaluate it? God, I don’t know. I don’t understand a lot of things about war and how people are even able to make those decisions, it's sadism by its definition. I think every decision made by those people… ancestors of mine I guess… was made with a mind made up about complete and utter power. Humans love, and almost have a need to have the upper hand in a situation. So what was their upper hand? Mass destruction. I would be very very frustrated with my ancestor but I can also see that they thought I was the right thing to do. While I wholeheartedly disagree with them, I don’t think there would be a way to win an argument with them about it. People were being told left and right that this was what needed to be done but in reality, it was not needed at all. My own grandma, when I asked her what she felt at the time, said she never felt any fear and that she felt proud of the country for using the power it had… I didn’t respond to that text..

Utterly disgusting is how I see it, I think if we are being honest that as Americans, the army never would have bombed Europe like that. I think there were racist undertones because they thought of people with other cultures as different species entirely. They didn’t they had humanity worth saving. What is scary is that they could definitely make the call again.

I do not see this as a reasonable way to end the war at all. It was 100% a rash decision. How could it not be? What reasonable person would make a call without being rushed to brutally incinerate hundreds of thousands of people? I think it should definitely be judged. I also do not think that one can talk about comparing the two evils of their treatment of others vs us bombing them.

Then there’s Bikini Atoll and the other sites in the Marshall Islands that were used as nuclear test sites in the years following 1945. Worth doing? Justifiable? Important for the future of mankind?

Oh My God. No this was not justifiable at all to test the bomb in the Marshall Islands, people LIVED there for god’s sake. They didn't know what was going on and they did not have a choice, the documentary released by the government tried to justify I because they were “simple-minded” and wanted a “little spice in their lives” and I am utterly speechless at that. Americas, Europeans, and honestly all conquerers of the world have a terrible habit of assuming that foreign people who live different liver than them are dumb and barbaric… just look at the Disney movie Pocahontas and the savages song: “Savages! Savages! Barely even human!” They were not even told to cover their eyes or ears once the explosion went off, simply left to float in those boats and wait to be taken back home, home to where radiation i leaking through the sand and trees, destroying their yet-to-be-born babies, jellyfish babies, and shunned as if it were their fault.

Finally, what do you say to the argument that the bomb not only ended the war but has brought about more than 75 years of unprecedented progress because the bomb itself, having been used in 1945, has (at least so far) proven that it is impossible to use again?

Ugh, this is such a hard question to answer since yes the bomb has now shown how brutal it is, but this should have been known before when tested in the near desert-like lands back in the US or in the Marshall Islands where people's lives were destroyed. In one of the newsreels shown the man is shown to say “No it will not blow a hole in the earth” and while this is true, it blew up life as that area knew it. It was known before and they still used it. Wars have been ended plenty of times without atomic bombs…

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21


Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Dropping the Atomic Bomb: Reflecting on How to End War

As the great-grandchild of someone involved in the creation, decision-making, and impact of the atomic bomb, I understand the complications of their attitudes and actions from a contemporary perspective. Considering the knowledge and perspective available to me now, I can attempt to evaluate their mindset and decisions, keeping in mind the historical context of World War II and the information available at that time.

Given the limited information available during World War II, it is likely that my ancestors supported the development and use of the atomic bomb due to several reasons. The Belief was that the use of atomic weapons would quicken the end of the war and potentially save lives in the long run by avoiding a costly invasion of mainland Japan. The destructive power of the atomic bomb was not yet fully comprehended, and the focus was primarily on achieving victory in the war.

Assessing the decision to drop the atomic bomb today requires careful consideration of various factors. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in devastation and loss of civilian lives. It’s crucial to remember the context of the war and the atrocities committed by the Japanese military during that time. Japan's aggression and brutal treatment of subjugated populations, such as the Nanking Massacre, Unit 731's human experimentation, and the exploitation of comfort women, were horrific crimes against humanity.

While the decision to use atomic weapons can be seen as a desperate measure in the midst of a terrible war, it is also important to question whether alternative options were thoroughly explored. The potential long-term effects of radiation and the targeting of civilian populations raise ethical concerns.

If the atomic bomb had been available in April 1945, it is unlikely that it would have been used against Germany. By that time, Germany was already on the verge of defeat, and the Allied forces were making large progress in Europe. The strategic considerations and the context of the war in Europe were different from those in the Pacific. The priority was to secure victory and establish a stable post-war order, which did not necessitate the use of such a devastating weapon against Germany.
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