Albert Einstein, atomic bomb, Axis Powers, Bockscar, decision to drop the bomb, easy choice, Enola Gay, Fat Man, General Tojo, Germany, hard choice, Harry S Truman, Hiroshima, Japan, Little Boy, Nagasaki, Theory of Moral Relativity, United States Army, war of attrition, war-weariness, World War II
The decision could not have been one which Harry S Truman undertook lightly. Having held the nation’s highest office for only a few months, Truman was faced with an ugly choice, the implications of which would reverberate more forcefully throughout history than any other presidential decision before or since.
With the War in Europe having finally worn to a bloody close, America’s attention at last turned to her enemies in the Far East. Despite recent military setbacks and the capitulation of their German allies, Japanese morale remained high. Tojo’s soldiers were tenacious, almost fanatically indefatigable, traits that earned them the grudging respect of their American counterparts. Given that these troops, aided by militias and civilians, would now be fighting in mutual defense of their island home ensured that any outcome was bound to be messy.
In the end, Truman faced two unpalatable options. The first, initially the more painful of the two, would require the larger up-front payment in American blood and treasure. The Allied troops would be given the unenviable task of fighting their way onto entrenched beaches which would make the reception they received at Normandy look like France’s defense of its homeland in 1940.
Once the Allied forces managed to establish a beachhead, they would then be forced to fight their way through to the island’s interior. The invaders would be resisted at every step, resulting in a series of bloody actions and guerilla attacks in a gruelling war of attrition. By the time the allied forces took Tokyo, they would have left in their wake an ocean of dead GIs, with legions of maimed young heroes sent home to an increasingly war-weary American public. Victory could be won, but at a terrible cost.
The second choice would initally appear to be the easier of the two. Howev–