Why was “the Bomb” really used and was it necessary?



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Why was “the Bomb” really used and was it necessary?
People have debated for years whether or not the United States was justified in its use atom bombs against Japan in August of 1945. Two of the best arguments in favor of using the bomb were made by former Secretary of War Henry Stimson (“The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb”, Harper’s Magazine, 1947) and by World War II veteran Paul Fussell (“Thank God for the Atom Bomb”). Locate one or both of these essays and summarize the arguments the author makes. Then find an opposing argument, one that claims that the bomb was not justified, and summarize the points the author makes. We will then look at all arguments surrounding Truman’s decision and you will be asked to rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 with one representing the “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” and 10 representing “Harry Truman should have been tried as a war criminal”. You will be asked to support your opinion with facts. Imagine that!
Controversy over the use of the bomb reached a peak in 1995 when, as part of ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of its use, the Smithsonian Institution planned to exhibit part of the Enola Gay (the plane which dropped the first bomb). Critics of the planned exhibit felt that it focused too much on the Japanese casualties and portrayed the use of the bomb as unjustified. At one point the plane was vandalized at the museum. The debate took on a generational aspect as it seemed that older Americans who had lived through WWII were more likely to approve of the bomb’s use as opposed to younger Americans who were more likely to question it. Notice that the two readings defending the bomb’s use were done by the Secretary of War at the time and by a WWII veteran. This raises the issue of presentism. Presentism may be defined as interpreting historical events using current day moral values. Some historians argue that past events should be interpreted by society’s values at the time of the event while other argue that morality is timeless and by not applying today’s morals to past event we are being apologists. What events or accepted practices of today will be criticized by future historians?
Why was “the Bomb” really used and was it necessary?
People have debated for years whether or not the United States was justified in its use atom bombs against Japan in August of 1945. Two of the best arguments in favor of using the bomb were made by former Secretary of War Henry Stimson (“The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb”, Harper’s Magazine, 1947) and by World War II veteran Paul Fussell (“Thank God for the Atom Bomb”). Locate one or both of these essays and summarize the arguments the author makes. Then find an opposing argument, one that claims that the bomb was not justified, and summarize the points the author makes. We will then look at all arguments surrounding Truman’s decision and you will be asked to rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 with one representing the “Thank God for the Atom Bomb” and 10 representing “Harry Truman should have been tried as a war criminal”. You will be asked to support your opinion with facts. Imagine that!
Controversy over the use of the bomb reached a peak in 1995 when, as part of ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of its use, the Smithsonian Institution planned to exhibit part of the Enola Gay (the plane which dropped the first bomb). Critics of the planned exhibit felt that it focused too much on the Japanese casualties and portrayed the use of the bomb as unjustified. At one point the plane was vandalized at the museum. The debate took on a generational aspect as it seemed that older Americans who had lived through WWII were more likely to approve of the bomb’s use as opposed to younger Americans who were more likely to question it. Notice that the two readings defending the bomb’s use were done by the Secretary of War at the time and by a WWII veteran. This raises the issue of presentism. Presentism may be defined as interpreting historical events using current day moral values. Some historians argue that past events should be interpreted by society’s values at the time of the event while other argue that morality is timeless and by not applying today’s morals to past event we are being apologists. What events or accepted practices of today will be criticized by future historians?


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