Was the United States decision to bomb enemy cities during World War 2 morally justifiable?

Asked by: MrKline
  • “When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them... Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.” ― Sun Tzu

    World War II is a total war of epic proportions. The US bombing of military targets in Europe had led to large numbers of US losses. The switch to bombing of cities sapped the enemy's will for resistance. It took seven months (and two nuclear bombs) of firebombing Japanese cities before capitulation, but saved possibly millions more due to aborting Operation Downfall (on both American and Japanese sides).

  • Morally justifiable definitely not

    During the United States decision to bomb enemy cities to me its like watching a little kid playing with a new to in away. Yes I will agree that by bombing enemy cities, especially German cities, it made countries fall faster in the war. During the United States bombing on German cities it made the Germans surrender and it ended World War 2. So yes i agree it was justifiable for strategic purposes but was it really necessary to bomb them to nothing at all? I am really on the fence about this because would there have been another way to get Germany to surrender? Most likely not. Any casualty is devastating yes but I feel like there was no other way to make Germany surrender.

  • Basic principles of war, attack enemy weak points whenever possible to destroy morale allowing for the destruction of enemy resources.

    I am going to start off by saying during war time that no civilian is truly innocent. The civilians themselves might not be the ones pulling the trigger but in some way shape or form are connected to the people doing the actual war fighting. Take the current war in Afghanistan as an example, the Taliban often ambush are troops and afterwards disappear into the mountains or into a village, then they reappear as an innocent farmer so that when they are arrested it makes the U.S. look bad to the locals. The way this relates to WW2 is how the civilian population is always under the influence of the current dominating military power in the particular region. In this case the German people are always under the influence of the German military, making all allied units that would invade Germany later in the war receive resistance from the civilian population. Civilian resistance would occur against any invading military which continues to prove my point of the mass destruction of the civilian population necessary to have a successful invasion with the least amount of resistance possible. These mass bombings were simply making the Russians have an easier time during the invasion of Germany while providing the allies with an easier time while fighting the war. This is where the concept of supply and demand comes in. The Allied powers start to win the war so Germany needs more soldiers, how do we stop them from satisfying their demand for soldiers? We just destroy the civilian population so the Germans have nobody to draft, allowing the allied powers to continue its strategic bombing campaign. Which involved destroying bottlenecks of industry while the Russians push back the German lines. The Germans, without a population to draft into service cannot defend their methods of manufacturing war supplies which results in troops cut off from supplies such as ammunition clothing, boots, weapons, food, water as well as planes and tanks along with other vehicles that can no longer be manufactured and can no longer be fueled. This is all do to the bombing of cities and destroying the civilian population. The destruction of the civilian population left the Germans with nobody to work in their factories, if the factories themselves were not destroyed and kept the Germans short of infantry and ground forces.

  • Yes. It was justifiable.

    Millions of lives where saved on both sides. To those who understand the realities of that time there can be no doubt that the United States would accept nothing but total surrender and that Japan was prepared to fight, literally to the last man. A war in Main land Japan would have been extremely costly for both sides and likely ended in the total destruction of an ancient culture. The Nuclear weapon shows us the futility of war in our modern world. A lesson we are yet to fully learn.

  • The bombings of enemy cities by the United States during World War II was morally justifiable.

    When a nation and its people are at war with another nation and its people, bombing important economic, military, or industrial centers are a must. If the United States did not bomb important key targets, the war may have extended past 1945. And if the United States did not drop the two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan would have been also split between a totalitarian communist North Japan, and a democratic anti-communist, maybe capitalist, nationalist South Japan as in the case of the Korean Peninsula.

  • I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. -Eisenhower

    Morals are what you believe or what see as right or wrong, and moral views can vary by person. The opinion on whether or not the bombing of enemy cities was morally justifiable will also vary by person as well. Although it isn’t pretty or the nicest action, bombing enemy cities during a wartime can be morally justifiable. During WWII the U.S. and Britain had started strategic bombing campaigns, the U.S. wanted to hit the bottlenecks of industry, while Britain wanted to just carpet bomb German cities. Their goal was to hurt the German military’s supplies, and the crush Germany’s morale. To see why the U.S. and Britain had made these decisions, one would have to look at it from their point of view, Germany was in control of almost all of Europe and were on the verge of taking over and destroying the Soviet Union. Germany has also shown its ruthlessness during the blitz, when they had bombed Britain every night for months, so from the Allied powers’ point of view, Germany needed to be stopped no matter what it took. Another thing that needs to be looked at is War is War, sacrifices will be made if they are helpful to the greater good, sure causing casualties of women, children, and elderly is something no one ever wants to see, but if it was a way of stopping the German military or a way of wearing them down, then it can be justified. It is tough to morally justify this, strategically it seemed like a good idea, but morally it’s a little tougher to justify, but as mentioned before, the Allied forces weren’t in the best position and anything that could slow down or Harm the German forces was helpful. One big problem is it is debated if these bombing actually did anything, whether they did or not, like before mentioned, one should step in the shoes of the Allied forces and look at the situation before them, and sure it is easy to criticize something we already know the outcome of, but the Allied forces needed to do anything to stop Germany and their allies. Another considerable counterpoint that is brought up is during the Nuremberg trials Nazi leaders were confronted about killing millions of women, children, and elderly in their concentration and extermination camps, and one of the officials had pointed out that The U.S. had done the same in our bombing campaigns, now to counter that argument, the Nazis had massacred millions of people because they were not ideal or as the Nazis viewed as helpful to the country, sure the U.S. had killed many civilians, which no one wants to see, but the U.S. and Britain had done this in hopes of ending the war, the Nazis had just wanted to rid themselves of the people they did not agree with or care for, the allied force’s reason for killing civilians can be looked at as more justifiable than Germany’s. (Debate continued in Comments)

  • Saving Millions of lives......

    Number 1 the Germans were notorious for putting camouflaging ammunition dumps and war factories to make them look like civilian factory because they knew that if they were near populated areas then the allies would not bomb those areas because the civilians could get hurt. By bombing enemy cities it demoralizes the enemy meaning it breaks there fighting spirit by breaking them down and making them weary. When we bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese emperor gave up unconditionally, thus saving millions of American lives when they would have gone to invade homeland Japan.

  • War is war and death is death

    It does not matter if it is justifiable. War is war anyway you look at it. It doesn't matter how you kill your enemy as long as it is effective an efficient. In war morals don't and shouldn't matter. To answer the question more clearly it is justifiable because its the enemy. The enemy being every human being apart of or allied with the nation that we are at war with.

  • Horrible acts of war were overshadowed by threats from both Nazi Germany and Japan.

    The bombing campaigns by the United States during World War 2 can be justified by recognizing just how massive of a threat our enemies were. Both Japan and Germany were resilient and America needed a way to strike at the heart of the nations. In a time of war, civilian casualties are morally acceptable. However, many bombed cities were of little significance to the war effort. This was of little concern to the US at the time. The goal was to destroy strategic locations from the air, thus ultimately saving American lives. In the end, enemy morale was crushed and damage was done.

  • Horrible acts of war were overshadowed by threats from both Nazi Germany and Japan.

    The bombing campaigns by the United States during World War 2 can be justified by recognizing just how massive of a threat our enemies were. Both Japan and Germany were resilient and America needed a way to strike at the heart of the nations. In a time of war, civilian casualties are morally acceptable. However, many bombed cities were of little significance to the war effort. This was of little concern to the US at the time. The goal was to destroy strategic locations from the air, thus ultimately saving American lives. In the end, enemy morale was crushed and damage was done.

  • Is it strategically justifiable? Certainly! Is it morally justifiable? Certainly not!

    It is easy to assume that millions of lives are saved from bombing German cities. In reality, only lives are lost. Whenever there is a bombing raid in city, the greatest casualty are civilians. Bringing death and destruction to many innocents who have never picked up a gun is not excusable just like Germans bombing allies' cities was not excusable either. Even if there are no other option to end the war more sufficiently, killing civilians is never justifies. Some may argue collateral damage is unavoidable, but bombing cities is targeting the civilians themselves.

    Ultimately, if US bombing German cities was morally justified, then 911 is justified because it's just a tactic of war. This didn't stop almost all Americans to condemn the terrorists for making such an inhumane and immoral decision. Just because bombing German cities is the fastest way to end the war, it doesn't make it morally justified.

  • Was the United States decision to bomb enemy cities during World War 2 morally justifiable?

    During World War 2 the United States committed a considerable amount of time, energy, and resources to the bombing campaigns in both Europe and Asia. Was the United States decision to bomb enemy cities during World War 2 morally justifiable? Do you believe it had a major impact on the outcome of the war? Be sure to explain your responses.

  • It was Morally Unjust

    Honestly, I believe that the bombing was wrong . Many women and children were harmed because of our countries' actions. I understand that Britain was bombed by the Germans, and many of their people lost their lives, but what kind of character do these actions portray on our part? Killing women, children, and elderly while their young, strong men are the cause of the destruction? Why not target the source? I mean, bombing the cities didn't really weaken the Germans, anyway. It was completely unnecessary, and did not greatly effect the outcome of the war.

  • Innocent people in harm's way.

    I would like to start my argument stating that Germany was a fan of trying to bomb Britain out of the war. With the help of the United States joining the war as a Allie, Britain and the United States decided upon trying to bomb enemy territories in an attempt to weaken them. While bombing the enemy territories, innocent people were killed. When is killing innocent people ever morally justifiable? I would also like to point out that a lot of people joined the Nazi Party out of fear of Hitler. If they didn't join, who knows what could have happened to them. Do people deserve to get killed by bombs because they were fearful and didn't have another choice? I think not. In all reality, the bombs that were dropped destroyed territories, but it really didn't weaken them. Instead, people moved underground and still went on with their lives. So the bombs really weren't needed. The United States entered World War II because of Pearl Harbor even though they were secretly helping out any country that was going against Germany. To conclude, yes the bombings were strategic, but they definitely weren't morally justifiable because we were basically doing the same thing that our enemies were doing by killing innocent people. When the U.S. questioned how could enemies kill woman and children with no thought, they obviously forgot that they as well were doing the same by bombing enemy territories.

  • The unjust killing of civilians

    The United States decision to bomb enemy cities during World War 2 was not morally justifiable. World War 2 resulted in many battles; therefore, the bombing of enemy cities was not needed. With Hitler's rise to power and his prosecution of Jews, many believe it was unjust that he was killing tons of innocent men, women, children and the elderly just because he wanted German purification to accomplish his goal under Mein Kampf. If that was unjust why should the bombing of our enemy cities be justifiable, we were doing the same thing, killing tons of innocent men, women, children and the elderly...

  • Is war itself morally justifiable?

    There is never a morally justifiable reason for taking multiple and countless lives in bombing of any sort. For those in charge of war most of them are just guarding their assets and/or trying to build something new. Even with protecting one's country and way of life does it really require the utter destruction and terrorism of and for another different from our own?

  • "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi The United States decision to bomb enemy cities was shameful and barbaric.

    No matter the severity of the crime committed by a country or group of people the solution should never be to bomb the civilians of that country. In the decades prior to World War 2 just the thought of bombing a civilian city would have been outrageously immoral universally. Had you thought this before the start of the war you would have been considered to have little military value. I ask now, why the sudden change in morals? Have we forgotten what is right and what is wrong? Has our definition of “all is fair in love and war” been taken to the extreme? Under no circumstances should bombing a city out of a war be morally right or even the slightest bit acceptable.
    If you cannot make your mother proud of your decision then chances are it was an immoral one. I can say that it is safe to assume that the mothers of the men who made the decision to bomb enemy cities in World War 2 were probably disappointed in what their sons had become. No one should be proud to say that they bombed a city full of civilians and certainly no mother will brag to her friends that her son is a reason that an innocent child who does not understand the war is dead or orphaned. By the United States stooping as low as the Axis Powers barbaric war tactics only proves it cannot be justified for any reason

  • The civilians in the cities were innocent and also the US didn't have to show their power by bombing more cities.

    The civilians in the cities were not doing anything. Also the war was practically over and there was no need to cause more destruction than what had already been done. I feel as if the US just wanted to "flex their muscles" at the other countries showing that they were strong and would do whatever it takes to win even if it is unnecessary.

  • Nope. It was not MORALLY justifiable.

    Strategically, I can see why the U.S. may have thought that area bombing was the way to go, but I don't think that the U.S. decision to bomb was even beneficial let alone morally justifiable. The United States' decision to area bomb made their aircrafts an easy target, which in turn resulted in a loss instead of a gain for the United States. Instead they killed innocent German civilians (women, children, and the elderly alike) that truly had nothing to do with the war, other then the fact that they lived in Germany. They had no means of protecting themselves.

  • The decision to bomb enemy cities during WWII was not morally justifiable.

    I believe that bombing the enemy cities was not morally justifiable. Killing innocent people is never the answer for any situation. Although we needed to boost our morale, the innocent people did nothing to us, so therefore why should we kill them? I believe the U.S. could have handled the situation differently, instead only killing the threat and not the innocent.

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David.Vertucci says2014-03-26T13:57:06.840
The United States decision to bomb Germany and Japan during World War 2 was not morally justifiable. In war time sacrifices must be made but the U.S. was bombing massive cities killing innocent people including women and children. However the United States did win the war so you could argue that the bombing were necessary to win the war. The bombing were not morally justified but neither was what German was doing to the Jews or the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor. Not saying to wrongs make a right but during war time morals have to be set aside.