Given the increase of
deaths due to radiation, another question emerges. Was the U.S aware of the radiation
There were certainly physicists at Los Alamos who understood that the atomic
bombs would produce significant amounts of radiation. But, according to
historian Sean Malloy (The Nuclear
Secrecy Blog), Oppenheimer (director of Project Manhattan) and General Groves
were more focused on the blast effects, showing little or even no interest in
the radiation concept?. Groves testified before
the U.S. Senate that death from high-dose radiation exposure is “without
undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.” However/Except,
the one time they were concerned with their health during an atomic bomb testing,
proves that they did know that radiation was a long-term effect danger, but
probably just didn’t care enough to know more about it, as it would be used on
the enemy. And so, as Groves “didn’t know” about the effects, the word never
got its way to Truman.
Malloy believes that Truman may have done things differently if he knew, as he
was opposed to the use of chemical weapons. But on the other hand, he surely knew
he would kill thousands of civilians with this blast, so would killing some
more with radiation make a difference? Probably not, but the real answer to
this remains a mystery.
Having said that the U.S
entered the war for humanitarian purposes (or to make the world a better
place), doesn’t this attack, that mostly killed civillians, go against this
First of all, the confinement of 110.000 Japanese-Americans in concentration
camps during the war already contradicts U.S’ morality. It was more an act of
revenge for Pearl Harbor and it was wrong to “label” them all as guilty for it.
As Howard Zinn stated, it demonstrates the same attitude as the one they were
fighting against in WW2 – “The United States came close to direct duplication
of Fascism.” (p. 416)
The decision to use nuclear weapons and the great deadly air raids without
minding the civilians, also directly contradict the humanitarian causes they were
fighting for. Truman’s statement saying that his true intentions was to damage
only the military must have been a lie… Hiroshima did have an important
military base, but the bomb had been aimed not at the army base but at the very
center of a city of 350,000 people, with mainly women, children and elderly.
The U.S did indeed distribute warning panflets throughout Japan, but only warning
about the firebombings, it did not mention the atomic bombs, neither did they
mention the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So if they at least wished to
reduce civilian casualties, couldn’t have they added this information on the
It has been proven many times that Japan they would have surrendered without
the bombings, therefore, we can conclude that the bombings were definitely
U.S showed that pride ruled over moral values when they could have made an
effort in accepting minor conditions/terms Japan was requesting for surrender,
in order to prevent so many deaths. If not accepting their minor terms, (which ironically
they did accept, after Japan had surrendered) they could have at least waited a
few more days between the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see if
surrender was being considered.
This was a cruel act which was most certainly carried out in the name of revenge,
geopolitics and an expensive project.
In order to create a better future, it is of great importance to learn
and question the past so we do not repeat the same mistakes.