Humanities 410 Extra Credit The Pros & Cons of Using the Atomic Bomb. During wartime, horrible atrocities against all of humanity must be dealt with. Crimes against humanity, as never witnessed before, and hopefully to never be seen again, occurred during the course of World War II. The security of our nation and of other allied nations was severely threatened, not only by the Germans, but also by the Japanese. The Japanese were a strong people willing to fight till it was no longer possible. It may even be said that they were suicidal, with their kamikaze pilots and no real hope of defeating the allied nations. America has always, and most likely will always place a high value on American lives. In order to protect these lives and to insure that the world is safe for democracy, American leaders had to make a very tough decision, whether or not to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. This act would essentially be trading Japanese lives for American lives. The Japanese, who were the aggressors, much like the Germans, were not sympathized with. They were responsible for hundreds of thousands of American casualties in the Pacific, including the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. With Japanese forces showing no signs of surrender, American leaders made a decision. A decision that changed the history of warfare forever. On the week of August 6, 1945, the first and the last atomic bombs ever used during war were unleashed against Japan, vaporizing two of its largest cities. The act of dropping these bombs can be considered a great act against humanity, and rightfully so. Any act of war that will slaughter hundreds of thousands of people should be considered a crime against humanity. However, if we had not dropped the bomb on Japan, how many Americans would have been killed attempting to invade the Japanese mainland? Some estimates are as high as half a million, some lower but almost all of the estimates are well over one hundred thousand American lives that would have been lost. This number did not include the number of Japanese that would have likewise been killed in the invasion. This combined number would greatly outweigh the 200,000 who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As American forces got closer and closer to the Japanese homeland, resistance from the Japanese increased. The Japanese were a very proud people, and they were willing to fight until it was no longer possible. The Japanese soldiers armed women and children with grenades and bamboo spears and instructed them to kill as many Americans as possible. Even if the capital of Japan was taken and its leaders captured, Japanese forces in China would continue to fight in a war where they could not possible win. In order to prevent the countless number of American and Japanese lives from being lost in an invasion, America had to surprise and shock the Japanese into seeing how futile it was to persist in the war. The only practical way to do this was by using the atomic bomb. Not that American forces had not destroyed Japanese cities in the past. Firebombing had almost totally destroyed the Japanese capital of Tokyo. The difference in using an atomic bomb was that a city could be destroyed in one swift blow, with no possible way to prevent the city from being destroyed. After the ultimate destructive power of this weapon had been demonstrated, Japan had no choice but to surrender. Some may argue that by using the atomic bomb in the war, we started the nuclear arms race. This is completely untrue. Germany and Japan had begun research on the atomic bomb even before the United States had conceived the notion. Not soon after the United States had begun research, Russia also began research. From the beginning of time, man has sought power. It is in our nature. That is the reason that wars are started, to gain more power. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate power, the power to play God. With one push of a button, an entire city can be vaporized, killing hundreds of thousands of people. As man moved closer and closer to the dawn of a nuclear age, it became inevitable that these weapons of mass destruction would be created. Once created, there became no way to stop the spread of them, as more and more countries gained the ultimate power. If the United States had decided not to perfect the atomic bomb, or even if they had decided not to use the bomb against Japan, other countries may have developed it before us. Hostile nations such as Japan or Russia could have developed it before us with devastating effects. The United States would have been defenseless against these nations. The iron curtain would have taken on a whole new meaning if Russia possessed nuclear weapons and threatened to use them. The nuclear arms race was inevitable and in no way was sparked by the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. The decision made fifty years ago to drop the atomic bombs on Japan will always be a controversial one. The lives lost on those two days is staggering. But if we had invaded instead, the consequences would have been far more devastating. Thousands of Japanese lives were saved, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of American lives that were saved. In essence, the atomic bombs used in World War II against Japan did not only destroy lives, but it saved them. The use of nuclear weapons is in fact a horrible crime against humanity. But by committing this crime, if it can prevent worse crimes as committed by Japan and Germany in World War II, than that crime against humanity can somewhat be justified. All in all, the bomb was the lesser of the two evils.