Those who claim the act was justified usually argue that the decision was a good one because it saved many more lives over the course of the air and ground war that would have continued had the bombs not been deployed (1).
That’s the argument used by Abby Martin of RT.com, however, states that the problem with this line of reasoning is that it’s based on speculation (2).
Does anyone really know how many people would have died had the war between Japan and the U.S. continued? One can guess based on how many casualties both sides had suffered up to that point.
But this is really missing the point. War often leaves behind a string of effects that could last for years, or decades, as in the case of post-traumtic stress disorder (PTSD), (3) Agent Orange, (4) and Gulf War Syndrome (5).
What History Has Revealed About Atomic Bombs
The benefit to history is that the book is never closed. Winners write the chapters, but sympathizers to the other side often make revisions. That is why there is still much debate about the causes of the Civil War (6).
The winner never totally obliterated its opposition and by leaving them and their descendants alive with the freedom to question, write, criticize, and speak freely, the losers have their own stories to tell.
In the case of the atomic bombs, what the U.S. has not owned up to in almost four score years since Japan’s surrender is that thousands more civilians died in the aftereffects of the bombings through radiation poisoning (7).
Survivors in the Japanese metropolises of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered a combination of symptoms immediately following the bombings. These include high fever, nausea, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, bloody stools, and nosebleeds. Many of the survivors experienced major hair loss and wounds that secreted pus. Their gums swelled and bled, their skin hemorrhaged, and many of them contracted infection in their internal organs while many more lost consciousness as they died slow deaths. Some of them showed no external signs of illness but died anyway.
Morality of Bombing
Even 30 years after the bombings, radiation was having its effect on the lives of people living near Hiroshima and Nagasaki, inflicting damage and leading to the deaths of the local civilian population.
In other words, all those lives that might have been averted by preventing a longer sustained traditional military campaign were taken by the aftereffects years into the future.
Is there some mathematical calculation to determine whether that number is more or less than the number of expected casualties if the war had continued? No. It’s all speculation.
So whether you choose to believe the official story told by the U.S. or the one told by detractors, you should understand that judging the morality of the atomic bomb drops on two Japanese cities during World War II is not as cut-and-dry or black-and-white as either side would have you believe.
Nor is either side telling the whole story. In fact, both sides are doing their best to spread misinformation and spin the truth in their own favor. Like a lot of other things, you’ll have to make your own decision.
References & Image Credits:
(1) YouTube, Prager University channel
(2) YouTube, Breaking the Set channel
(3) Mayo Clinic
(4) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
(5) Chronic Multisymptom Illness Affecting Gulf War Vets is Still an Enigma
(6) History Net
(7) LA Times
(8) Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki