Should we have dropped Atomic bombs on Japan

I argue no.

Here is my reasoning:

At this point, the japanese economy was in shambles. Their navy was ruined. Their soldiers starving. They were at the breaking point. There were cracks in the glass.

But instead of shooting the glass, we dropped 2 atomic bombs.

Some people may argue that dropping the bombs saved more human life (if the war would have continued, more soldiers would have likely died than the number of citizens)…

But, my point is that the soldier knows what he is up against. THe citizen is completely innocent.

**It just seems morally wrong to drop 2 atomic bombs in large citizen populated areas on a country that is at the breaking point. **


You can’t intentionally target civilians in war, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted because they were urban centers, not in spite of it. Therefore the bombings would have been immoral even if Japan had not been in shambles.

Read the targeting documents and you’ll see that the intention was to target urban populations to demoralize the Japanese government and demonstrate the destructive power that the U.S. had in hand. Here’s the documents from the Targeting Committee, and here’s the specific portion I’m referring to:

  1. Psychological Factors in Target Selection
    A. It was agreed that psychological factors in the target selection were of great importance. Two aspects of this are (1) obtaining the greatest psychological effect against Japan and (2) making the initial use sufficiently spectacular for the importance of the weapon to be internationally recognized when publicity on it is released.
    B. In this respect Kyoto has the advantage of the people being more highly intelligent and hence better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon. Hiroshima has the advantage of being such a size and with possible focussing from nearby mountains that a large fraction of the city may be destroyed. The Emperor’s palace in Tokyo has a greater fame than any other target but is of least strategic value.
  1. Use Against “Military” Objectives
    A. It was agreed that for the initial use of the weapon any small and strictly military objective should be located in a much larger area subject to blast damage in order to avoid undue risks of the weapon being lost due to bad placing of the bomb.

So using the bombs against strictly military targets was discussed and rejected.

Peace and God bless!

anyone that thinks that it was ok to drop a bomb of such destruction should watch

and tell me when even the pilots only care about americas…why did you really drop the bomb, anyone historian from UK to Canada, anywhere will tell you the Japanese were going to surrender, and fearing the would and have nowhere to test the bomb they dropped it.

I am so sick and tired of hearing this same line, do you guys have it tought in school, do you talk about george washington burning indian villagers and killing them, do you have no shame, say what you will about pearl, it was a military target, they dropped a nuke on a civilion city, if it had been dropped in america, the other way around, all the people would cry outrage …who war crime war crime!

I talked to a woman who came to canada from japan, she told me when I was 18 years old, and i have a hard time taking american side when she told me her sister of 4…had her arms come off in her hands down to the bone…when she tried to pick her up, her mom was never seen again, and her older brother died a short time later of burns. can you imagine a 4 year olds skin coming off the bone like a cooked chicken.

do you want that done to you, because any nation can now claim they HAVE to to “save lives” its only a matter of time.

i feel sick at every person who says OH YES , we did the right thing, those japs deserved it…think of your kids skin coming off and tell me what a eye for a eye would feel like to see your 4 year old go threw that…

to this day as i write this i tear up…because i can picture her sister in my head, maybe I don’t know what she looks like but the image…

Pope Pius XII condemned the atomic bomb and said at the time that, “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man.” The Vatican newspaper *Osservatore Romano *commented in its August 7, 1945, issue: “This war provides a catastrophic conclusion. Incredibly this destructive weapon remains as a temptation for posterity, which, we know by bitter experience, learns so little from history.”

It is interesting to note that Eisenhower and other American leaders who were in a position to know the facts **did not **believe, either at the time or later, that the atomic bombings were needed to end the war.

When he was informed in mid-July 1945 by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson of the decision to use the atomic bomb, General Dwight Eisenhower was deeply troubled. He disclosed his strong reservations about using the new weapon in his 1963 memoir, T*he White House Years: Mandate for *Change:

During his [Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”

“The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing … I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon,” Eisenhower said in 1963.

Once a decision to go to war has been made, the Church also requires that it be prosecuted justly (jus in bello). The point cannot be overstressed. It is a common belief that once the shooting starts all means to win a war are licit. The term for that is “total war,” and the Church condemns it. Non-combatants may never be targeted, and the force used while fighting a war must be governed by proportionality. In the decision to use the atom bomb, neither of these terms was met.

It is in the past. The question is should the USA be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a future war.

that is the problem with america and it’s thinking…you don’t learn from the past, once you get to the past it seems you want everyone to forget everything…for 60 years japan has said sorry…why hasn’t america…your as soon as tomorrow arrives, do you wash your hands and say new day oh well, because no matter how many years or days has gone by, those peoples family members are still gone…some still live with “the past”

I tend to agree with you, Property Dualist. (interesting handle). I was taught that a big bomb that doesn’t discriminate between combatants and non-combatants was morally wrong. The bombs dropped on Japan killed so many innocent civilians. Was unconditional surrender a mistake? I believe that prevented us from anything but total victory - which could only be attained by either a land invasion or the bombs. But consider the Japanese government’s response to Hiroshima was to ask their experts if it was in fact a nuclear bomb, and if so, how soon could they make one. The government was preparing the citizenry for an allied land invasion: the elderly and youth were getting makeshift booby traps ready and no doubt a land invasion would have resulted in millions of casualties on both sides. I believe that bombing was wrong and should not have happened. That said, I wasn’t around then - and hindsight is always 20/20. Incidentally, the firebombing of Tokyo was even worse in terms of death and destruction - B-1 bombers dropped bombs on Tokyo in winter when its dry and windy and the city went up in flames. People suffocated or burned. It is not just the size of the bomb that’s a concern - but whether civilians are targeted or that that civilian casualties are permitted. I think the anger toward Japan because of Pearl Harbor as well as the casualties in the fighting on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa was a factor in the decision to drop the bomb. The US noticed that the Japanese didn’t surrender. Women took their children and jumped off cliffs instead of be captured by the Americans. That doesn’t suggest that the Japanese mainland would have surrendered quietly.


The subject has been covered extensively in several previous threads, for example, here and here. I just don’t have the heart to go through it again.

I am pretty much convinced of two things:

  1. The bombings violated the moral principles of the Catholicism.
  2. The bombings saved hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

With respect to (1), the atomic bombings were not the only aspect of WW-II that violated Catholic moral principles. So did the fire bombing of Dresden, the attacks on cities for the purpose of demoralization of the population, the firebombing of Tokyo, which killed more people than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, among other things.

With respect to (2) the casualty and death toll in the Pacific Theater was horrific, with thousands dying on a daily basis. Other posters in the threads I referenced above have given far more detail than I can do here. But the 2 bombs ended the war, and saved lives.

And perhaps one more thing. I think that nearly any president in Truman’s position, with the same information, would likely have made the same decision.

I’ll add just one more hypothetical that I think is also likely true: If Truman had not dropped the bombs, and the war had dragged on for even a few more months, with thoushands of casualties on both sides, the American people, once they found out that these bombs had been available, would have vilified Truman intensely for not using the means at his disposal to end the war.

Interesting quote by Eisenhower. Yet, I have heard that the ceasefire which ended the Korean war was partially a result of veiled threats by Eisenhower that he was considering using the bomb against North Korea. (this is from Modern Times by Paul Johnson).


I might note that it was also Eisenhower who, as president, invented and put into place the concept of “massive retaliation,” that is, massive nuclear retaliation, against the USSR should it ever invade a NATO nation.

He realized that the U.S. could not protect NATO, not at that time anyway. So he put SAC B-52 bombers with nuclear weapons on 24 hour alert. Their purpose was to bomb Russian cities in retaliation for even a non-nuclear attack against any NATO nation.

Strangely enough, that threat kept the peace in the inital stages of the cold war. And the threat was real.

The notion of a just war, found as a theological concept in both Catholicism and Judaism, is, to me, a tough sell, given all the so-called “collateral damage” that is bound to result. However, the notion of a just bombing of civilians within a just war seems an even tougher sell, given the Catholic doctrine that the end does not justify the means. So I would have to agree with your interpretation of this tragic event, no matter how necessary it might have appeared at the time in order to save more American lives by ending the war sooner and no matter whether the Japanese civilians at the time were not so innocent, as some claim.

your statement upsets me, i guess someone can claim your wife and children arn’t innocent and see how you feel…this is why i have a problem with your country. you cannot associate any feelings with another human being. can a single person from your country picture themselves on the receiving end, and tell me how going to school in the morning is worth dying for…i cant speak for others but im pretty sure your country is a good candidate for Babylon, but then again you wouldn’t change your ways even if god told you to. i shake my head, the word charity is unknown to your kind, if jesus saw how your country acted, what would he say, oh what a example to the world…lol, most delusional country in the world who thinks millions of people who tell you your not pure or great are wrong…65 years later…people still think Japan deserved it…i pity your nation and let god judge you the same way he judged every other corrupted well…you you know…

i;m not even angry, how can i show charity when a nation or its people show none on others, time and again i see it on this forum, i try to change every day, but time and again i hear the same stupid **** over and over again., everything is in the past, you cant even remember the **** you guys do in prison in cuba, or anywhere else, mei lie massacre…thats t, im done, i give up on your nation, this is the second i gave up on trying to open peoples eyes, im a man of peace so let god and jesus judge you and your country for the real nature of who you are, for I take comfort in the fact that you cannot escape gods judgement no matter what comes out of your mouths to change the facts.

i have been threatened with being banned on this board…cant even share a opinion and would be denied caring gods teaching because america comes before god…so thats my rant…what does it matter, your prob going to see suspended, or terminated on my account, because nobody wants to hear the truth on anything, and as long as you think america has the right to do anything it wants i will hate that about the country, so i leave you with a HBO clip and leave you to your countries self vanity…

Ironically, the statement “the word charity is unknown to your kind” strikes me as uncharitable. I think, however, you may have misinterpreted what I stated; in fact, I agree with your position about the bombing of Japan. I added to my comment the idea that the Japanese people at the time were thought by some to be mostly in collusion with the political leadership rather than being just ordinary citizens. I do not agree with this assessment, and I do believe the bombings were unjust and tragic, as stated previously.

The bombings were morally wrong and should not have happened. To believe otherwise is to be consequentialist. Ends do not justify the means.

uncharitable, its all perspective, you know how many times i have complained to moderators and nothing happens when something is offensive to me or when someone says something about canada…i been threatened to be banned for calling someone a liar for posting facts on canada that arn’t true…its all one sided, nobody is allowed to say anything about america while everyone can walk on me and my country or anyone elses.

im glad you agree, doesn’t solve this boards issues, ya alot of american forum members, but thats all this is, far left forum, everyone is wrong but americans…shall i post the links to the forum topics of people thinking japan deserved the tsnumi happening to them that stayed open…i wouldn’t be so mad if i didn’t think i was treated unfairly.

and i didn’t swear, i didnt threaten anyone, but im sure i will be moderated for this…because its only free speech when its what one person wants to hear. I would even be hushed if i thought i was wrong, but i get 2-3 pms per day saying what i saying is right, that this forum is far left and anyone on the outside doesnt really get a say.

thats all. so ya i hate being told im being banned for calling someone a i liar, told im not welcome here…so guess you are only welcome here if you dont say anything americans dont want to hear.

I know we’ve had our disagreements before, particularly on the topic of Israel and Jews. I’m rather thick-skinned concerning all these sensitive issues, but you have to understand this is a Catholic Forum and there are rules of etiquette with regard to charity. The same rules should apply to ANY civil discourse, but we know they are in short supply on the Internet as well as off. One point you made about this Forum being far left I must take issue with: if anything, I’ve found a right focus on this board. BTW, I love Canada, particularly Quebec City.

In all warzones civilians are unfortunately caught in the crossfire and innocent victims at times.

In a utopian world only the ‘soldiers’ would die in war zone (sometimes I feel the decision-makers such as politicians should be included in their numbers).

Civilian casualties during WWII due to military activities & crimes against humanity


Soviet Union ~ 14million
Poland ~ 5.4million
India ~ 2million
France and its Territories ~ 2.5million
Philippines ~ 600,000
U.S. ~ 1700

Compare the above with 1million Japanese civilians.

My guess is that the Allies were very tired, battle weary and upset by the time the decision was made. The action was designed to send a message, to defeat the Japanese totally, body and mind.

The truth is HUGE decisions affecting millions is made during wartime, decisions which when reflected upon in peacetime or in hindsight may not make any sense or be questioned.

Was the attack on Pearl Harbor morally wrong? Was the Bataan death march morally wrong? Were the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki morally wrong? The answer to all three is yes, but not for the reasons you might think. They are wrong because all war is morally wrong no matter how it’s fought or what weapons are used. The problem that exists is that there is always some group of idiots that want war. Guess what, they are not all Americans either. I wonder what would have happened if Stalin had nuclear weapons. Would he have used them? How about Tojo? or Hitler? or Napoleon? or King George III? or George Washington for that matter? I believe that some people like to bring this topic up because it proves what an evil country the United States is, when in reality, the farthest they, or actually I should say we, have to look for such evil is that which lurks in our own hearts. Now, can we get over the past and pray that nuclear weapons are never used again, or better yet no one ever has to fight another war.

Which is all nice and dander except that the II World War saw indiscriminate attacks to civilian populations by the Germans 1st and the Allies 2nd.
Read the accounts of the Battle of Stalingrad or the Battle of London and the civilian casualties inflicted there.
Once you open that pandora’s box all bets are off.

In August of 1945 Rev. George B. Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Army Air Force, was stationed on Tinian Island in the South Pacific. He was assigned to serve the Catholics of the 509th Composite Group. The 509th Composite Group was the Atomic Bomb Group. He served as a priest for those who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After 22 years as a military chaplain he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. What follows is an interview with him by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy. Rev. George B. Zabelka went to meet his God on April 11, 1992.

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