Title page for ETD etd-04102007-145400

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Paulin, Joseph H.
URN etd-04102007-145400
Title America's Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan
Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.)
Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stanley Hilton Committee Chair
Karl A. Roider Committee Member
William A. Clark Committee Member
  • decision
  • atomic bomb Japan
Date of Defense 2007-03-28
Availability unrestricted
During the time President Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan, the United States was preparing to invade the Japanese homeland. The brutality and the suicidal defenses of the Japanese military had shown American planners that there was plenty of fight left in a supposedly defeated enemy. Senior military and civilian leaders presented Truman with several options to force the surrender of Japan. The options included the tightening of the naval blockade and aerial bombardment of Japan, invasion, a negotiated peace settlement, and the atomic bomb became an option, once bomb became operational.

Truman received recommendations, advice and proposals from civilian and military leaders within the first two months of taking office after President Roosevelt died. Only after meeting with the senior leadership to discuss the various options did Truman authorize the planning and execution of the invasion of Japan. However, the extremely large casualty estimates presented by the Chiefs of Staff remained a concern for Truman, especially in the wake of the bloody battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. These estimates became the driving factor for Trumanís ultimate decision to use the new weapon against Japan and to end the war before anymore Americans service members died unnecessarily.

The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan was only Trumanís decision to make. All the other leaders provided their recommendations and advice based on the events that shaped the brutalities of the war in the pacific. At no time did Truman receive advice on not using the atomic bomb. Critics and military leadersí disapproval of his decision came after the war had ended. To this day, Trumanís decision remains a controversial topic among scholars and will continue to be a source of debate well into the future.

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