Aug. 6 and 9 mark the 72nd anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The debate continues about the morality of dropping those weapons.
Most of the opinions that one hears are expressed by people who did not live through those days.
The United States was hit by a Japanese sneak attack at Pearl Harbor that killed more than 2,100 American sailors and virtually destroyed the Pacific fleet. The attack was a means to stop the United States from interfering with the Japanese intent to dominate the entire Asian Pacific rim under the guise of the "Great Asia Co-prosperity Sphere." As a result of that policy, the Japanese forces had run rampant over Korea and China, indiscriminately raping, torturing and killing civilians.
When the U.S. struck back with the Doolittle Raid, those planes went to China, and the Chinese people saved most of the crews, who were eventually returned to U.S.-controlled territory. The penalty exacted by the Japanese for this embarrassment (there was little damage in Japan) was the systematic murdering of more than 250,000 Chinese civilians.
The Japanese routinely killed any wounded troops they captured and turned the others into slave labor, killing many.
Since the Japanese always fought to the death, the expected casualty rate just to take the islands of Japan was projected to be more than 1 million. As a consequence, when faced with the prospect of those losses or using the two nuclear weapons that had been developed, the United States used "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" to bring the emperor and his forces to their knees.
President Harry Truman was faced with a no-brainer; he elected to use the weapons, and the Japan unconditionally surrendered in days.
Many critics say civilian population centers should not have been hit, but civilians were targets of both sides of the conflict in Europe and Asia. For some reason, there are those who feel the use of nuclear weapons was immoral. In reality, they were just larger weapons that caused much greater destruction.
Had those atom bombs not been used, the hierarchy of the Japanese government and military would never have capitulated, and the toll in Americans and Japanese lives would have been incomprehensible. It is possible that a significant percentage of the total Japanese population would have been killed in the ensuing fight for the islands.
The decision was correct in 1945 and was ultimately the humane thing to do. Amid a continuing international debate regarding nuclear weapons, there should be no recriminations seven decades later.