A Terrible Weapon That Achieved Much Good
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, let it be known on Tuesday that the president "will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II." But perhaps Obama should "revisit" that decision — not to apologize for it, but to reaffirm that it was right and just, ultimately saving countless lives, ending a terrible war, and freeing the people of Japan from a savage and fanatic regime.
However contentious it later became, the deployment of atomic firepower was not controversial in its time. On Aug. 6, 1945, as Truman announced to the nation that an atomic weapon had been used to annihilate Hiroshima, there was no hint of ambivalence in his words. "The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor," he declared. "They have been repaid manyfold, and the end is not yet."
Far from feeling sorrow for having to unleash such gruesome force, Truman celebrated it as "the greatest achievement of organized science in history." And he was blunt about America's intentions: "We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war."