Throughout the war, the city of Hiroshima had been left virtually untouched by U.S. attacks. It is inferable, then, that the United States government hoped to see the full effect of nuclear power by detonating the atomic bomb on this locality, as they could be sure that any damage was from the atomic bomb alone. A similar reasoning could be applied to the usage of the second bomb, fat man, which was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. One could wonder if the motive behind this second attack was similar to the first; the only difference being that the bomb to be tested this time was considerably more powerful.
The final say on whether or not to drop die bomb came from President Harry Truman, who consulted with a special Committee known as the Interim Committee. This organization was made up of Secretary Stimson as chairman; President Truman’s personal representative, James F. Byrnes; the Under Secretary of the Navy, William L. Clayton; and the Assistant Secretary of State as well as many others. The work of the Interim Committee was to discuss the uses of the bomb and whether or not it would be wise to use nuclear force against Japan in combat. On July 1, 1945, the committee submitted a report to President Truman stating that: a) the bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible, b) it should be used against a military target surrounded by other buildings; c) it should be used without prior warning of the nature of the weapon.
The Interim Committee decided against warning the Japanese about the atomic bomb because they claimed that they weren’t sure if it would detonate. Not one of the Chiefs nor the Secretary thought well of a bomb warning, an effective argument being that no one could be certain, in spite of the assurances of the scientists, that the ‘thing would go off.’ This was refuted by many as being quite ignorant. For example, the atomic bomb was tested in Trinity Site, New Mexico, USA. It was viewed by the media, U.S. government officials and the military. Viewing the destruction firsthand should have convinced the United States that nuclear power was a real and tangible danger. They should have been quite sure at this point that the bomb would, indeed, detonate. The US wanted a quick and effective way to end the war.
However, there were many other possible alternatives to dropping the bomb that should have been considered. Truman wanted an ‘unconditional surrender’ from Japan, but his offer to them threatened the position of their Emperor. The Japanese were unwilling to accept this as a condition to their surrender, as the Emperor in Japanese culture was considered to be godlike. Obviously, they were therefore unwilling to accept unconditional surrender. To compromise, the US could have assured Japan the retention of the status of the Emperor in the terms of surrender. Japan would have ended the war themselves, without the U.S. ever having been used nuclear force. The United States also could have threatened Japan with a Russian invasion.
The Japanese were counting on Russia to help them make peace with the U.S. without unconditionally surrendering, which they believed would result in the loss of their Emperor. If the U.S. had have convinced Japan that Russia would use force, the Japanese may have felt that it was necessary to give up, as at the time Russia was the only nation with whom Japan maintained a neutrality contract. Finally, the United States could have warned the Japanese about nuclear power as a final resort. Surely the Japanese had known about the astronomical and devastating effects before the bombs were dropped, they would have seriously considered surrendering, no matter what the cost to their culture.
Because the United States chose not to thoroughly consider all of their options in forcing Japan to surrender and end the war, the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki was impulsive and rash. Had they considered all of the alternatives, and had only used the atomic bomb as a last resort, many lives could have been saved. It was completely hypocritical of the Americans to say that they wanted to save lives, when, instead they destroyed them.