“A short time ago an American airplane dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy,” President Harry Truman said in a somber statement on August 6, 1945. Previously, as chairman of the United States Senate Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, he had ordered certain investigations called off when he was told that the U.S. Army was working on a project that needed to remain secret. “Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States Army,” said Truman, delivering his statement.1
Albert Einstein had suggested the idea of an atomic bomb to President Franklin Roosevelt, who decided along with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that it was a necessity for the Allies after learning that the Nazis, working under Adolph Hitler, were developing atomic technology in conjunction with their rocket program. With the Manhattan Project achieving its objective before the Nazis were able to conquer the world, the possibility of using atomic energy to end the Second World War was left to the United States and its allies.2
“It might cost half a million American lives to force the enemy’s surrender on his home grounds,” Truman said of casualty estimates for a planned invasion of Japan. Considering the advice of his Secretary of State, who had lived with the Japanese people for ten years as the American ambassador to their country, Truman urged a peaceful conclusion to the war.3
An article published today in The Wall Street Journal reports that approximately 250,000 people died as a result of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; two million Japanese deaths were estimated with an invasion of the island.4
“When I went to America I had a deep hatred toward America,” said a Japanese woman, who received medical treatment in the United States after surviving the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. “I wonder what kind of education there is now in America about atomic bombs.” 5
“So comprehensive is the American nuclear command and control system that the role of the man at its center, the President” says the book The Mask of Command, “has been described as that not implementing nuclear response (or attack) but of precisely the contrary: assuring that missiles will always remain in their tubes or silos, and aircraft within their national airspace, unless he specifically orders otherwise.” Author John Keegan explains that the American president is “not to act as a trigger to launch nuclear weapons but as a safety catch preventing other triggers from firing.” 6
In a nuclear age exposed to suicide bombers sponsored by terrorist regimes, education about weapons of mass destruction needs to support the mission depicted by Keegan and guiding Truman, a President of the United States with the glory of recommending the U.S. Constitution to the applause, the affection, and the adoption of every nation:
What seems most likely to effect safety and happiness? 7
1. J.F. Watts and Fred L. Israel, Presidential Documents: The Speeches, Proclamations, and Policies That Have Shaped the Nation from Washington to Clinton (New York: Routledge, 2000), 284-285. Harry S. Truman, Memoirs by Harry S. Truman, Volume One: Year of Decisions (Garden City: Doubleday, 1955), 10-11.
2. Ibid., 417-418.
3. Ibid., 416-417.
4. Warren Kozak, “A Hiroshima Apology?” The Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2010, Opinion.
5. Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook, Japan at War: An Oral History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992), 384-387.
6. John Keegan, The Mask of Command (New York: Penguin, 1987), 340-341.
7. James Lindsay and Ray Takeyh, “After Iran Gets the Bomb,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010, 33-49. Ronald Grey, “The President’s Mission,” https://ronaldgrey.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/the-mission. John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, 39 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1932), 35:214-238.