Recently I published an article in International Security called “The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima.” It argues that the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War II not because of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but because the Soviets entered the war on August 8–the same day we bombed Nagasaki.
I don’t think much about the morality of Hiroshima even though most of the debate among historians focuses on this question. I think the question of whether the bombing was effective is far more important than whether it was right. The morality question is a retrospective question. The effectiveness question is about the power of nuclear weapons and whether it makes sense to rely on them. Now. But I’ve been reading Bill Miscamble’s new book From Roosevelt to Truman (written in particularly clear and graceful prose) and he defends Truman vigorously. It set me thinking.
[Another reason I don't normally engage in morality arguments specifically about Hiroshima is because I think you either have to condemn city bombing in general or allow all city bombing. If it's right to bomb Hamburg then you have to allow Hiroshima. If it's right to firebomb Tokyo, ... Read More »