As we approach the 70th anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are a number of opinion pieces being published that repeat the refrain that using The Bomb was unnecessary.
On the other hand, there are also some excellent treatises that provide historical justifications showing that the decision saved hundreds of thousands of lives and averted a great deal of needless suffering by enabling a quick, face-saving, unconditional surrender in response to overwhelming power.
It’s quite possible that my search techniques have provided me the wrong impression, but I’ve determined that the position that using The Bomb was the right decision is significantly more prevalent among thinking, writing Americans than the opinion that President Truman should have made a different choice.
Even though there is some debate about the remaining strength of the Japanese military in August 1945 and its ability to resist the building momentum of the Allied forces, most current commentary seems to recognize that the bushido code of Japanese warriors would not let them surrender. Forcefully demonstrating our ownership of a weapon powerful enough to destroy a city with a single blow gave them an out and prevented extensive bloodshed and starvation.
Aside: I am biased. My dad served in the Pacific as gyroscope repair technician in the US Navy on a repair ship named the USS Rigel. Without the use of The Bomb, my own history might have been substantially different. End Aside.
Americans seem predisposed to understanding that big problems can be solved with powerful tools. As a corollary notion, many assume that if the major promoters of a particular problem refuse to use the most capable solutions, the problem must not be as bad as they say it is.
The more cynical among us may also realize that some people profit more from continued treatments using weak and ineffective tools than from an effective solution that may eventually allow resources to be redirected to fighting other problems.
The bumper sticker slogan “NUKE Climate Change” is thus aimed at attracting attention, pointing out the optimistic fact that we may have already found a weapon powerful enough to end the “war”, and putting the opponents of nuclear energy who also claim that climate change is an existential battle on the defensive.
For those of you who believe it is wrong to tie nuclear energy development to the climate issue, I have other bumper sticker ideas with similar slogans. For example:
Feel free to disagree, but please provide a reasonably detailed justification for your opinion.
PS – One of the motivations for the above line of thinking is the coverage being given in advance of today’s planned release of the EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule. Most media sources seem to believe it is all about “renewables like wind and solar” and ignore any possibility that it might include credit to states and companies that chose a more realistic nuclear solution.