American Responsibility for the Bombing of Hiroshima Essay

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American Responsibility for the Bombing of Hiroshima

The decision to inaugurate the nuclear age by dropping an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima was one of the most momentous acts of the twentieth century. To this day the wisdom of that decision is still a subject of controversy.1 The bomb was developed in great secrecy. This momentous decision that affected the entire planet was made by only a select few. In America, with its democratic government, the whole country finds itself responsible for the actions of its leaders, in particular the President. The leaders are elected with the select purpose of making decisions for the whole. They were responsible for looking at the war and the direction in which it was heading. The Americans
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General Groves was the man put in charge of the project. It was assumed that whoever could first develop such a weapon would hold the upper hand in the war and would eventually be its victor. At the time it was unknown that German authorities had come to the conclusion that their economy simply did not have the required capital funds to manufacture such a weapon of mass destruction.3 Therefore, the perceived "race" to be the first country with an atomic bomb was nonexistent. America was racing against itself. A team of scientists had been working on the project for up to 18 hours a day, 6 days a week. The research and development incorporated nearly 40 factories(left) and up to 200,000 people. This is a staggering number, as it is more than were employed in the automobile industry at the time. However, for all the people involved, only a handful actually knew what they were producing. The final cost of all this development was in the neighborhood of two billion dollars.4 It was less than four months later that President Truman was faced with the decision of whether or not to use the atomic bomb.

It could be argued that no one is ever completely his own man, least of all an American president. In the case of Truman and the atomic bomb, "the psychological flow affecting his decision was formidable".5 Truman inherited a project with powerful secret momentum, technological and political and bureaucratic, derived from an assumed "race" for the weapon that would

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