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Nicole Brzozowski

Global History of World War II


Dr. Zalar
Should America have dropped the atomic bombs to end the war? Students
answers should attempt to integrate what they learned over the course of the
semester
Throughout this semester, Ive come to the conclusion that although the goal of
war is to win, this can only be achieved with the proper equipment. Manpower, strategy,
and the readiness to fight are all essential for a successful war. But what separates the
winning countries from the defeated ones is who can create the most effective way to
kill the greatest number of people, in the shortest amount of time. This mindset is one I
have a very hard time wrapping my head around; my current college studies are
preparing me for a career in which I will be using all my resources to nurse as many
people as possible back to proper health. I morally and ethically struggle to agree that
America should have dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I see
no other plausible alternative that would have ended the war. I believe that war would
have continued for an unnecessary extended amount of time due to the aggressive,
unwillingness to surrender mindset that the Japanese had created. I also believe that
the nuclear race had been an investment for the United States and if the United States
hadnt been the ones to win, the Earth-altering power of the atomic bomb would have
landed in the wrong hands.
War against Japan was very personal for the United States. On December 7th
1941, Japan issued a surprise military strike on Pearl Harbor, killing over 2,000
American marines and wounding over 1,000 more. The manner at which the Japanese
went about the attacks on December 7th was unforgivable. At the time, the United

States were in negotiations with Japan. According to Iriye in Pearl Harbor and the
Coming of the Pacific War, Having decided on war, on December 7 the Japanese
government instructed its embassy in Washington to submit to the State Department a
lengthy memorandum detailing the reasons why Japan saw no alternative but to
terminate bilateral negotiations. The memorandum was not a declaration of war. Japans
official declaration of war was issued at 11 A.M. on December 8 Tokyo time, (page 95).
This memorandum was delivered to the State Department after the Pearl Harbor attack
had taken place. Japan had set the pace for war against the United States, and it was
evident that they were out for unsparing American blood. The sneak-attack left America
invigorated and inspired immediate commitment to a vengeful war without mercy. Japan
had made a huge miscalculation that America wouldnt be willing to sacrifice the lives of
soldiers in war because of the casualties the United States had faced in World War I.
The unwarned attack reflected more than Japans decision to align with Germany
and Italy, but also demonstrated their military scheme. After World War I, Japan learned
that in order to maintain victory it depended on the mobilization of national human
resources. The humiliation World War I had brought Japan inspired a youth generation
militarism. The youth were brought up practicing patriotism, self discipline, and selfsacrifice. These traits translated to how the future Japanese armies conducted
themselves in World War II. Learning how to become accustomed to killing another
human being was mandatory. This type of training was set to numb and erase the
human moral code and instill a new code to kill. The moral obligation in Japanese
society were quickly broken on foreign soil. Absolute freedom in a norm-less space

allowed the Japanese soldiers to turn into aggressive, dominance-obsessive shells of


human beings.
The idea of absolute dominance over everyone and everything lead to torture of
the weak. This was seen tragically so frequently in the raping of Nanking. The Chinese
women were only seen as women while they were being raped but after they were
called pigs, dogs, cats, and insects. Raping another human being was a prime example
of the Japanese attempt to gain complete control. Most notably, the Japanese army
followed the rule that dead people cant talk and slaughtered the women after they had
raped. Defiling and torturing human beings was not just seen in the raping of the women
of Nanking, but also seen in the mutilations of dead American soldiers. The code of
conduct for the enemy differed drastically between the American and Japanese army.
Sledge describes in With the Old Breed, an instance when he came across three
mutilated bodies of fallen Marines. He recalls, one of the Marines had had his genitals
cut off and stuff into his mouth. Brutality had no limits for the Japanese army. According
to Stoler and Gustafson in The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II, from 1931
through 1945, the Japanese Empire attributed to a total of 17,222,500 deaths. This
brutality substantial number of deaths would have continued to grow hadnt the United
States made drastic measures to drop the atomic bomb.
Other than ruthless torture, the Japanese culture itself had an unwillingness to
surrender. Defeat was not an option. To the Japanese, the body was expendable.
Civilians fell victim to this ideology. Civilian massacres by Japanese group forces were
common. Not only were the Japanese killing outside civilians but also those of their own
countrymen as well. They forced civilians to strap bombs to themselves and run toward

Marians. The expandable body was taken to the extreme when rather than being taken
as prisoners of war, the Japanese would kill themselves. According to Dower in War
Hates and War Crimes, ...most Japanese fought until they were killed, or committed
suicide. They did so for many reasons, prominent among them the fact that they were
socialized to sacrifice themselves for the emperor and the state, and ordered not to
surrender by their commanders (pages 67-68). The Japanese refused to surrender
because they believed that they were martyrs and heroes fighting and dying in a holy
war against a demonic enemy. The war would have never ended with Japans way of
fighting. Killing and torture would have inevitably continued. The Japanese knew no
other way than to sacrifice himself to the every end. It also speaks for itself, according to
Keegan in The Second World War, in the wake of the drop of the second atomic bomb,
Emperor Hirohito made a speech saying that the war was no longer necessary to
Japan's advantage. He never admitted to surrender, but said that they accepted peace.
The race to create a nuclear weapon was crucial during the war. A nuclear
weapon was such a new idea during World War II, no one knew what the potential this
untapped power had. The race for this earthing braking power was between the United
States, with the help of Britain, against Germany. The top-secret project, code-named
Manhattan in the United States and Tube Alloys in Britain, was to create the worlds
first nuclear weapon. Albert Einstein warned President Roosevelt that Germany might
be bent on an atomic weapons programme as well. This initiated the nuclear weapons
project. The United States and Britain had made quite the investment in this new
programme: a production and experimentation 2 billion dollars. Germany was years
away from manufacturing atomic bombs at the time the Allied atomic weapons

programme was already close to fulfillment. The first atomic bomb was dropped on
August 6th 1945, and killed 78,000 people in Hiroshima. The second atomic bomb was
dropped on August 9th, and killed 25,000 people in Nagasaki. Both of these bombs
were dropped after the Japanese were called to surrender and no word was received
back to the United States.
Would Hitler have given the United States or anywhere else in the world a
chance to surrender before dropping such an explosive and deadly bomb? According to
Stoler and Gustafson in The Atomic Bomb, ...the compelling reason for creating this
weapon with such speed was our fear that Germany had the technical skill necessary to
develop such a weapon, and that the German government had no moral restraints
regarding its use (page 401). I have reason to believe that had that the potential of
nuclear power landed in Germanys hands we would be living in a very different world
today. I imagine a very vicious world. Undesired people in Germanys, Japans, and
Italy's eyes would have continued to be wiped off the earth. The United States, Britain,
and the Soviet Union's lands would be split up and conquered. This alone would lead to
further wars and battles over the division of land. Peace would be forever lost.
It took me a semester of reading and learning to decide that the atomic bomb
was absolutely necessary, but if I were alive during World War II I would not have even
questioned its use. I would have been 20 while the war was going on, meaning that I
most likely would have been married and also have had children. My husband would
have been drafted and fighting in the war. I feel selfish knowing that I would have
wanted the United States to do anything in order put a stop to the fighting and bring my
husband home. But I know that the atomic bomb was the fastest way to induce a

surrender from the Japanese. Stoler and Gustafson report in The Atomic Bomb, that
85% of Americans living in 1945, approved of the use of the new atomic bomb on the
Japanese cities.
There is nothing nice about war. Death is something that is hard to make sense
of. War 100% grantees death, except for those who are lucky to escape it. Therefore,
there is no nice way to end war. The Japanese had proven to the United States in their
unwarned attack on Pearl Harbor that they were ready to fight an unlawful and
unrestrained war. The Japanese culture during World War II speaks for itself on how the
Japanese wished to continue through war. The Japanese had bred a generation of
young, revengeful, antagonistic men. They were men with no moral code or restrictions.
They were simply given a weapon and told to kill. This resulted in the raping of civilian
women and mistreatment of the war code of conduct. The Japanese were believed that
surrendering was a sign of weakness. The Japanese were taught to fight to the death
no matter what. In their eyes there was no end of the war until they were victorious. It
was crucial for the United States to make the atomic bomb first because if they hadnt
someone else would have. If such a power had landed in the hands of Germany then
the world we live in now would be forever changed.