NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 5, 2005

Today -- or August 6 in Japan -- is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which killed outright an estimated 80,000 Japanese and hastened World War II to its conclusion on August 15. And if we're going to reflect seriously about the bomb, we ought first to think about it as the generation of Americans who actually fought the war did, says the Wall Street Journal.

At the time of Hiroshima, American GIs were scheduled to participate in the invasion of the Japanese mainland, for which the Truman Administration anticipated casualties of between 200,000 and one million Allied soldiers. No surprise, then, that when news of the bomb reached Allied soldiers, they had no misgivings about its use, because it meant they would live.

The atomic bomb spared American lives, what about the Japanese?

  • The Japanese army was expected to fight to the last man, as it had during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
  • Since the ratio of Japanese to American combat fatalities ran about four to one, a mainland invasion could have resulted in millions of Japanese deaths -- and that's not counting civilians.
  • The March 1945 Tokyo fire-bombing killed about 100,000; such raids would have intensified had the war dragged on.
  • The collective toll from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings is estimated at between 110,000 and 200,000.

Looking back after 60 years, who cannot be grateful that it was Truman who had the bomb, and not Hitler or Tojo or Stalin? And looking forward, who can seriously doubt the need for might always to remain in the hands of right? That is the enduring lesson of Hiroshima, and it is one we ignore at our peril, says the Wall Street Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Hiroshima," Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2005.

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