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Should America Have Dropped the Atomic Bombs?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 428 times Debate No: 91784
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
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I believe we should have dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. This is mainly because the war against Japan was turning extremely bloody, especially with frequent Kamikaze attacks and very stiff resistance. Many Americans noticed that Japanese resistance grew and grew and became more brutal and fanatical as the Americans and British got closer and closer to the Japanese mainland. Eventually, the Allies got to Okinawa. There, they found resistance forces that no one could have imagined. Franklin Roosevelt would pass away putting the presidency into the hands of Harriet S. Truman. Truman was given a big decision to make. Should he drop the atomic bomb or not? My first reason for the bombs needing to be dropped was to save millions of American lives. Second of all, Truman wanted to wear down the Japanese psychologically. The American fire bombing raids were already extremely effective but what about destroying a entire city with one bomb? If one bomb can do that much damage then surely the enemy is stronger then you are.


Point 1: The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary because Japan was already on the brink of collapse. It is well documented that Japan was extremely damaged by the war already. American air raids ravaged what remained of the Japanese Empire. Massive air raids were conducted by the American Air Force. One of these, on May 23 1945, consisted of 520 B-29 "Superfortresses" dropping 4,500 TONS of incendiary bombs upon the capital city of Tokyo. After a second strike with 502 B-29's two days later, they collectively obliterated 56 SQUARE MILES of Japan's capital. The American Air Force General Curtis LeMay even boasted that we were "driving them [Japanese] back to the stone age."
The amount of destruction and plain chaos in Japan, as well as the almost gone military, make atomic bombs unnecessary to the war. There was no way Japan could retaliate, as they had nothing to retaliate with. This leads right into my second point.

Point 2: The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary because Japan was already trying to negotiate peace with the allies, using Russia as the medium. By early July 1945 the US had intercepted messages from Togo to the Japanese ambassador in Moscow, Naotake Sato, showing that the Emperor himself was taking a personal hand in the peace effort, and had directed that the Soviet Union be asked to help end the war. It is widely documented that this is the case. The State Department in 1945 even reported it, as I will let the historian Gar Alperovitz (who is arguably an expert on the use of the atomic bomb) describe:

"In mid-April [1945] the [US] Joint Intelligence Committee reported that Japanese leaders were looking for a way to modify the surrender terms to end the war. The State Department was convinced the Emperor was actively seeking a way to stop the fighting."

And the US certainly knew how to get the information on Japan's negotiation attempts. The Army broke the Japanese code long before the atomic bombs. In fact, it was broken before Pearl Harbor. There was no doubt that Japan was defeated, and was trying to surrender. Even before surrender attempts with Russia, they had tried with Sweden and Portugal and Switzerland (neutral countries). Sweden actually sent the message to the US, but the Secretary of State Edward Stettinius said to "show no interest or take any initiative in pursuit of the matter."

So which officials believed the bombs weren't necessary? Among the voices of dissent were: General Eisenhower, Admiral William Leahy, General Douglas MacArthur, the Assistant Secretary of War, General Curtis LeMay, Brigadier General Bonnie Fellers, and dozens of other influential officials. Even the Japanese said that it was not the atomic bombs that made them surrender, but the bombing from B-29's.

Point 3: The USSR was going to invade Japan. Just one day after we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, The USSR was set to declare war on Japan. Even before the second bomb was dropped, the USSR started to invade Manchuria with thousands of troops. This was likely a major cause for the Japanese surrender, according to historians. As Germany had been subdued earlier that year, Japan understood that the Allies were about to concentrate the full power of their military unto Japan. Waiting just a couple more days would have brought around an unconditional surrender, without the loss of 225,000 civilian lives. This is backed up by dozens of historians.

Thank you for giving me the chance to debate this. I hope this will be challenging and fun to debate!
Debate Round No. 1


Yes. You are quite right about the Soviet invasion on Manchuria. However, this is another reason why we dropped the bombs. During the early and middle periods of World War Two anti-communism was beginning to fade in America. However, when Roosevelt passed away and Truman became president anti-communism came back. Truman dropped the atomic bombs partly because Stalin had invaded both Manchuria and Mongolia. This was because Stalin wanted to spread his communist influence all around the world. Truman new this and figured that he needed to beat Stalin to the punch and bombed Japan. In this way he turned Stalin back because now America had fully controlled the Pacific.

America did not even want to kill civilians either. Before each bombing warnings would be sent to the Japanese government and leaflets would be dropped on the target cities telling the civilians to leave. Japan refused of course. Also, when we targeted Nagasaki we did it to further destroy Japanese military power. The bomber accidently dropped the bomb way off target instead of dropping it in the large port that was actually targeted.


First of, I apologize for my lack of pleasantries in the first round. I was pressed for time and forget to do so.

On to your points!

My understanding of your first argument is that we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to stop the USSR from invading Japan. However, this argument completely ignores the fact that Japan was trying to surrender. Not only were they trying, but they sent a list of surrender terms to the US for them to agree on. In the next round, if you wish, I can post the terms which Japan wanted.
These terms were virtually identical to the ones accepted at the formal surrender after Nagasaki. So the US, in order to make Japan surrender and in the process, stop Stalin from spreading influence, could have simply accepted Japans surrender a full five months before the bombs. This would have had the exact same effect on a the USSR's influence as making them surrender after the bombs did. In summary, your point does nothing to show why the bombs were necessary, only why a surrender was necessary. And since I have proven that Japan was trying to surrender before the bombs, the communist influence argument has no, well, influence.

Your second point is kind of the same. It doesn't show why the atomic bombs were necessary, only that the people were given fair warning and didn't move out. Furthermore, the leaflets didn't specifically mention anything like the terror of the atomic bomb.
If America didn't want to kill civilians, they would have simply accepted Japan's surrender and saved over 200,000 men, women, and children. What I personally believe is that it was revenge for Pearl Harbor. Which is the least reasonable reason for dropping two atomic bombs and killing 100 times the people, instantly. But that is opinion, and should not be taken as an argument by you or voters.

Thank you, and the best of luck with the rest of the debate!
Debate Round No. 2


Tyler1 forfeited this round.


Thank you, and vote Con!
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
>Reported vote: lord_megatron// Mod action: Removed<

1 point to Con (Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited

[*Reason for removal*] Voters are not allowed to award conduct-only votes unless the debater in question forfeited half or more of their rounds. Lacking that, the voter is required to still assess arguments as part of their RFD, even if they decide not to award argument points. This vote fails to do so, and thus is insufficient.
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago
"That is when the war ends, not with 5 million dead."

How little of my arguments did you read?
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago
Your reasoning is contradictory. If Japan was ultra prideful (which I don't dispute) and doesn't accept any form of surrender (which I do dispute), then why did their "prideful and stubborn" military sign an unconditional surrender?! By your own reasoning, the atomic bombs wouldn't have stopped them. It would have been just as dishonorable and disgraceful. You are also missing something. The Japanese people viewed the Emperor as a GOD. That is not even an exaggeration. The reason the Japanese people accepted defeat when the emperor accepted unconditional surrender is because they viewed his decision as the best one.
It was not highly unlikely for Japan to surrender. As my evidence showed, they were trying to surrender and at one point, approx. 5 months before the atomic bombs were dropped. At that time, they literally sent terms to the US, which the US rejected completely and utterly. Not only did they reject it, but the Secretary of State said to take no pursuit of the matter. Apparently no surrender would do. Before you say "America should only accept an unconditional surrender", the conditions accepted by the Japanese after the bombs were virtually the same as the ones they offered beforehand. Clearly showing that the US could have accepted the Japanese surrender without the deaths of 200,000 people.
"In any war, the point is not to bring your opponent to the table, but to have them destroyed to a point where they are willing to accept anything to survive."
True or not true. It really depends on the war. In this case, if Japan accepts a surrender after the atomic bombs which they were offering and prepared fully to accept BEFORE that, there is no reason to kill 200,000 people. Except for revenge for Pearl Harbor, which has to be the worst and most reckless reason I have ever heard.
Win at any cost is not the US logic. We surrendered in Vietnam, didn't we? Because it was costing us too much and we weren't winning. Which shows your logic is utterly wrong.
Posted by Bradley1221 9 months ago
Hanate333- Yes while you do provide facts that Japan was preparing to possibly surrender as well as reports from the Japanese as well as the Allied Governments involved, there is a distinct pride in the Japanese military command you may have continuously overlooked. Japan does NOT except any form of defeat due to the militarized and highly prideful nature of the Japanese people. There is a reason officers of the Japanese military commuted Seppuku instead of Surrendering. Surrender is dishonorable and disgraces both you and your country. As to the point of the Emperor being able to stop the war effectively without an intensive invasion or an Atomic Bombing is very unlikely due to the USSR prepping to invade them as well as being a "neutral" party, and the belief albeit false of a Japanese victory against all odds. No military could stand against the combined onslaught of the USA forces and the USSR's forces. Look at their allies who utterly succumbed to them. Japan would have had and do have a better future since the US dropped atomic bombs on them. One may have accelerated the peace processes, but in any war the goal is not to bring your opponent to the table but to have them destroyed to the point where they are willing to accept anything to survive. Two atomic bombs provide the utter and complete destruction of both ego and belief, when your fellow countryman are radioactive ash and are having intensive wounds that will never heal correctly. That is when the war ends, not when there is 5 million dead but when there are limited casualties or acceptable losses and you're opponent can't fight. Its military logic at its most basic. Win at any cost.
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago
Oh oops I didn't post the surrender terms in my argument. Here they are, sorry for the misunderstanding.
President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan's article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 -- that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
Surrender of designated war criminals.

General Douglas MacArthur confirmed this agreement to be true in 1951 after he returned from Korea.

I will post this in my found 2 argument as well.
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago
To all, continued-
The verdict the Strategic bombing survey reached was:

"Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945 [the date of the planned American invasion], Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."

As the foremost, most qualified, and most researched review of the Atomic bombs use, it is quite clear that the atomic bombs were not necessary.
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago

The Japanese were brainwashed into thinking that the US was a monsterous and evil nation. The only reason the public would fight to the death is because of fear. Fear that the US will take everything. The power, though, resided in the government. And they were seeking peace. And when Japan filed out a surrender, they could simply reveal the truth to the public, telling them that the US were not monsters.
As for your hard time believing Japan would surrender, my point 2 goes in depth on Japan's attempts and messages to surrender. As well as terms. That is all you need to know Japan was trying to surrender.


1. I have clearly shown, multiple times now, in in past debates as well, that Japan was on the verge of surrendering. They had terms set. They were contacting multiple neutral nations. A land invasion would have never occurred, and as such millions of lives would never have been lost.

To all:

The Strategic Bombing Survey was created in 1945 by the US government to review the use of bombs in WWII. They conducted the most in depth surveys and reviews on the use of bombs, ever. And they were a primary source. What they found, to quote them directly:

"The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms ...
Negotiations for Russia to intercede began the forepart of May 1945 in both Tokyo and Moscow. Konoye, the intended emissary to the Soviets, stated to the Survey that while ostensibly he was to negotiate, he received direct and secret instructions from the Emperor to secure peace at any price, notwithstanding its severity ..."
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago
Cdaehler continued-
Russia declaring war is the same as invading. They were already moving troops to the eastern border when the US dropped the atomic bombs. Which is yet more pressure on Japan to surrender.
The entirety of your land invasion point is moot, because Japan was already trying to surrender. A land invasion would never have been necessary.
Russia was neutral up until they declared war on Japan, so Japan could definitely negotiate with them. And even if Japan knew Russia was planning on declaring war, that wouldn't stop them. That would simply renew their efforts to bring about peace before their complete and total demise.
Posted by Hanate333 9 months ago

My point 1 was talking about how there was zero tactical/strategic reason for the atomic bombings, as well as being a lead up to my point 2, why Japan decided to surrender before the A-bombs. Japan's military was destroyed, and unlike Truman proclaimed, Hirsohima and Nagasaki were not valid military targets. This can be backed up by dozens of experts and historians. I didn't understand your argument about my point 1 not causing surrender. It does, and it obviously did.
If Japan was determined to fight to the last breath, why did they decide to not do so after the atomic bombs? By your own reasoning, the atomic bombs had nothing to do with Japan's surrender. They would have been just as honorable after the bombs were dropped, right? Secondly, the emperor was wiser than most of his subjects (besides the decision to attack Pearl Harbor). He understood from a tactical perspective that surrender was necessary. As I showed in my point 2, both him and his prime minister believed this before the A-bombs. And tried to surrender.
This "supposed" surrender wouldn't have taken long at all. Japan already had a list of surrender terms to give to the US, which they did accept after the bombs were dropped. And as the surrender after the bombs were dropped took barely any time, this wouldn't have either. And barely any American lives would have been lost. As my point 1 clearly states, Japan's Air Force and military were destroyed. Nobody was left to combat B29s during the surrender negotiations. And certainly not enough to justify the killings of 200,000 innocents.
You misinterpreted the Japanese Prime minister. When he said prolonged bombings brought about the surrender, he meant PROLONGED bombings. Not the atomic bombings, but the mass bombings before that. So the executive branch of the Japanese government admitted that the atomic bombs did nothing to change what they were doing, surrendering.
Posted by Bradley1221 9 months ago
Hmm let me end this and for all. 3,000,000 total military deaths 2,000,000 civilian deaths and roughly 5 million total for a invasion by US forces. Or 250,000 deaths from atomic bombs. I would rather take the 250,000 than 5 million people dead
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