As the final days of World War II dragged on, the United States decided that the casualties inflicted by atomic weapons were a better solution than a dragged-out conflict in Japan. That decision paved the way for the only atomic weapons released in combat to be detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Here are the pros and cons of that decision.
List of the Pros of Dropping the Atomic Bomb
1. It stopped the war from continuing.
The estimated casualty count for a Japanese mainland invasion was above 500,000 on the Allied side alone. By dropping the bomb, fewer people were killed than what would have likely happened otherwise.
2. It served as a deterrent.
With the dropping of the atomic bombs, the Allies created a deterrent to prevent other nations from waging war. The threat of having an atomic bomb dropped on them encouraged more efforts at diplomacy.
3. It kept joint occupation to Europe.
Instead of splitting up Japan into sections like the Allies had done in Europe after the war, Japan and much of the South Pacific remained under Allied control only. In the coming decades, many of these nations have gained their independence once again.
List of the Cons of Dropping the Atomic Bomb
1. The decision killed allies too.
There were a dozen soldiers held as POWs in a Hiroshima police station. Several thousand American citizens were living in and around the two cities as well. Another 23,000 unprotected soldiers enter the cities after the blasts and were exposed to radiation.
2. It is the largest single mass-casualty incident in world history.
In total, more than 350,000 people were killed, most civilians, when the atomic bombs were dropped. Although the death toll from the Holocaust was much greater, in a single incident, no other action initiated by humans has killed so many.
3. It affected millions more in the decades to come.
The radiation from Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused cancers, blood disorders, and organ health issues for decades to come. In the United States, almost all veterans suffering from radiation-related exposure were not treated or compensated for their conditions.
The pros and cons of dropping the atomic bomb on Japan show us that with great strength comes great responsibility. Every life has value. We must remember this fact in the months and years to come.