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Transcript of Manhattan Project
American History-Period 4
By: Kelsey Gravitte
Roosevelt undertook this monumental task primarily out of fear. On October 11, 1939, a letter was received from Albert Einstein, enlightening the president of a new field of physics. Einstein explained that it was possible for nuclear fission to occur in Uranium, creating powerful bombs. Unfortunately, he warned the president that Germany had already been exporting Uranium. Thus, out of fear of German research, the United States, under the Army Corps of Engineers, and the British, under the Tube Alloy Project, proceeded to research and build an atomic bomb ("The Manhattan Project 2").
At the start of the atomic bomb project, there were only a few locations to research. These included Columbia University, the University of Chicago and the University of California. Due to advancing research and the accomplishment of a controlled nuclear chain reaction, more funding was given to the program. Thus, there were more locations. These were created in Washington, Tennessee, and most significantly, Los Alamos, New Mexico. New Mexico was the destination where the first atomic bomb was tested at Trinity Site ("The Manhattan Project").
With the help of Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and many other brilliant scientist, three atomic bombs were created. The first, being the one tested at Trinity Site on July 16, 1945, detonated a very bright flash 200 miles long, a mushroom cloud 40,000 feet high, and a crater a half-mile long. The bomb turned sand into glass. This bomb was named the "Gadget," but it was never produced again because of the heavy expenses and long production time. The second atomic bomb was named the "Little Boy" and the third was named the "Fat Man." ("The Manhattan Project";"The Manhattan Project 2").
The End of WWII
By Germany's surrender in May, 1945, they had not successfully created an atomic bomb, like the Allies had feared. Then, on August 6, 1945, due to Japan's resistance in surrendering unconditionally, "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by a B-29 bomber. This atomic bomb killed more than 100,000 people. Finally, on August 9, 1945, after Japan still refused to surrender, the "Fat Man" was released on Nagasaki by another B-29 bomber. This bomb killed about 75,000 people. Fearing further destruction and death, Japan unconditionally surrendered on August 15, 1945, ending World War II. ("The Manhattan Project 2"; "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Death Toll").
The most secretive and massive project ever undertaken by the United States was the Manhattan Project, a program to create an atomic bomb and revolutionize modern warfare. The project was authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill. It was so secretive, that even the vice president, Truman, was unaware of the program's true purpose until Roosevelt's death. Only a select few of the inner scientists were told, and even Stalin was kept in the dark. It was crucial that neither the Japanese nor the Germans understood the real goal of the Manhattan project. This program created 120,000 jobs and required $2 billion in research ("The Manhattan Project").
Argument #1: Pro
Possibly the greatest argument for the pro bombing or pro Truman choice of the atomic bombs, is that they actually saved lives. America's next step was Operation Downfall, which was a land invasion of Japan. This surely would result in many casualties, both Japanese and Americans, especially due to Japan's barbaric and kamakazi type fighting. It was estimated that through Operation Downfall, there would be about 23,000 to 49,000 casualties in the first 30 days. It was believed that over a million Americans would die in a land invasion. Not to mention, Japanese casualties were estimated to outweigh that of the atomic bombs. Also, by dropping the bombs, it was believed to end the war sooner. In 2007, William Guarnere said,
"Somebody once said to me that the bomb was the worst thing that ever happened, that the U.S. could have found other ways. I said, "Yeah, like what? Me and all my buddies jumping in Tokyo, and the Allied forces going in, and all of us getting killed? Millions more Allied soldiers getting killed?" When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor were they concerned about how many lives they took? We should have dropped eighteen bombs as far as I'm concerned"("The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: Support").
Argument #2: Pro
Not only would the atomic bombs actually save lives, but it was also a punishment or deserved treatment for Japan's barbarianism and acts against American at Pearl Harbor. Japan was known for their inhumane acts during war. For example, they murdered and raped thousands of men, women, and children. They forced women into sexual slavery and tortured and executed prisoners of war. In the Bataan Death March, American prisoners of war were marched to a camp in which thousands died from beatings, starvation, disease, torture, and even being buried alive. Thus, in comparison to Japan's actions, the atomic bombs were justifiable ("The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: Support").
Argument #3: Pro
One more argument rationalizing the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was the fact that America gave the Japanese fair warning. The United States warned Japan that if she did not surrender unconditionally, then there would be destruction. Also, American planes dropped leaflets into civilian areas warning them to evacuate the area. 63 million leaflets were dropped in 35 cities. The bombs were not totally a surprise to the Japanese. Further, after the first atomic bomb was dropped, America gave Japan one more chance to surrender, and they refused it yet again ("The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: Support").
Argument #4: Con
As there were many people in agreement with Truman's decision to drop the atomic bombs, there were also many people strongly against it. One of the major con arguments is that there were other alternatives to dropping the atomic bombs. Some of the alternatives include a demonstration of the bomb, waiting for aid from the Russians, allowing Japan to keep their Emperor so that they would surrender, and continuing the conventional bombing. The interrogations from about 700 Japanese military men conclude that, " it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." Also, many feared that by releasing the power of atomic weapons to the world, it would create an arms race which could be detrimental to the world ("The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: Against").
Argument #5: Con
It is a common belief that the dropping of the bombs was a racial or political decision made by Truman and not merely a military decision. It is argued that the bombs were dropped on Japan because of racial discrimination and that an atomic bomb would not have been dropped if the people had been Caucasians or Germans. There was a difference in the propaganda of Japanese people in America from the Germans or Italians. It was more targeted towards the race as a whole rather than just their leaders. There was huge anti-Japanese hatred in America. Also, it is speculated that the main reason the bombs were dropped, was to teach Russia a lesson. It is believed that America wanted to further limit Soviet gains after war, so the bombs were a tool to scare them. Byrnes said, "Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb [on Japan] might impress Russia." ("The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: Against").
A Necessary Evil?
I believe that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a necessary evil on the part of President Truman and the United States of America. In calculating the pros and cons of both sides, it is apparent that, although catastrophically cruel, the bombs saved lives. The war really needed to end and there was a possibility that Japan would fight this war to the last person before surrendering. Also, Japan never really was an innocent nation. Their military conducted itself with brutality and inhumanity. Thus, the citizens of Japan are likewise, to an extent, responsible for their military's actions. They never tried to stop their military or try to convince their Emperor to surrender before the dropping of the bombs. There seems to definitely be consequences from the dropping of the atomic bombs, but so should there have been consequences for the evils done by Japan. Therefore, I believe the atomic bombs were a necessary evil.
Were the Atomic Bombs really necessary?