This week marks the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The two bombings which killed at least 129,000 people still today remain extremely controversial and the justification for them a huge point of contention. This grim milestone brings into sharper focus more contemporary issues regarding the enormous dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy in general and what measures we can put in place to live in more safe and secure world.
My own view is the use of the atomic bomb was a criminal act on behalf of the United States for which Harry Truman (then US President) should have been convicted of war crimes. I don't see any circumstance under which the use of this weapon is justified and now 70 years on we are all still dealing collectively with the legacy of the development of nuclear weapons. The future of the human race is potentially under threat as long as these weapons exist and I fully believe in complete nuclear disarmament as they're use of will always be a distinct possibility to which current rising tensions between Russia and the west attest to.
Many people attempt to justify the use of the bomb its by claiming that the only alternative was a full scale invasion of Japan which would have cost many millions of lives with both many military and civilians dead. This is totally false proposition once in depth study of the subject has been conducted. The National Archives in Washington DC contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures to the United States as early as Protected content . None were pursued. A cable sent on May 5, Protected content the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb".
Another reason for its use was to showcase US military strength to the then Soviet Union after the conclusion of the war as many US military planners were already aware of the coming cold war conflict with its then nominal ally. I would recommend everyone who feels that the use of nuclear weapons can ever be justified to read the reports of the first foreign correspondent to enter Hiroshima, Wilfred Burchett and his dispatch to the UK daily express entitled "The atomic plague".